Two Pamlico sites fail this week’s Swim Guide test

Published 3:41 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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WASHINGTON [June 14, 2024] — Two Pamlico River sites failed to meet recreational water-quality standards this week: the Washington waterfront and Cotton Patch Landing on Blounts Creek, east of Washington.

The Lake Royale sites were not tested this week.

“We haven’t had much rain, so there might be something else at play at the two sites that failed,” said Clay Barber, Sound Rivers’ program director. “We know, based on readings done by our water-quality specialist this week, that the Pamlico River at the Washington waterfront had ideal conditions for an algal bloom, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.”

Swim Guide is an international water-quality program conducted locally by Sound Rivers, an environmental nonprofit based in Raleigh, New Bern and Washington whose mission to keep North Carolina’s waterways fishable, swimmable and drinkable.

The program runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Each week, a team of Sound Rivers’ volunteers gathers water samples at more than 50 popular recreation sites from the Piedmont to the Pamlico Sound. Sound Rivers’ staff test samples for E. coli in fresh water and enterococci in salt water and pass/fail results are released to the public, providing an easy way to find out where it’s safe to swim. A Swim Guide fail means elevated levels of fecal bacteria in the water, which can come with increased risk of gastrointestinal illness and skin infections for pets and humans alike.

Twenty-three of the Swim Guide sampling sites are located in the Tar-Pamlico river basin: five recreational sites at Lake Royale, near Louisburg; Tar River Reservoir and Sunset Park in Rocky Mount; the River Road boat access near Tarboro;  Town Common, Wildwood Park and Port Terminal in Greenville; Yankee Hall at Pactolus; the downtown waterfront, Mason’s Landing and Havens Gardens boat ramp in Washington; Chocowinity Bay at Cypress Landing; Broad Creek at Pamlico Plantation; Blounts Bay and Blounts Creek at Cotton Patch Landing; Dinah’s Landing at Goose Creek State Park; Bonner Point and Plum Point on Bath Creek; and Wright’s Creek boating access, near Belhaven.

Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program is sponsored by the Water-Quality Fund in memory of Gene Pate, Grady-White Boats, Public Radio East, Cummins, UNC Lenoir Health Care, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, UNC Pavel Molchanov Scholars, ECU SECU Public Fellows Internship Foundation, City of Greenville, Lake Royale Property Owners Association, Greenville Evening Rotary Club, Melinda Vann and David Silberstein, and Wendy and Tim Wilson.

To sign up for Swim Guide notifications, go to or text “SWIM” to 833-686-5322 for weekly water-quality results. For more information about Sound Rivers, visit