Local News

Advocacy group ranks Neuse, Cape Fear rivers as endangered

Posted April 11
Updated April 12

— Two North Carolina rivers were ranked among the top 10 most endangered rivers in the country for the second year in a row when this year's study was released Tuesday morning.

American Rivers ranked the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers the No. 7 most endangered because of the number of hog and chicken farms located in the rivers' flood plains. Roughly 4 million North Carolinians get their drinking water from the rivers.

The group says its report "is not a list of the most polluted rivers in the country" but instead "is a list of rivers at a crossroads or tipping point."

The potential for damage was seen during Hurricane Matthew when more than 140 swine and poultry barns and a dozen open pits holding hog waste flooded. The flooding forced millions of gallons of raw animals waste into both of the rivers.

Pollution in the rivers could be seen in Smithfield and as far south as Fayetteville.

A number of hog facilities were removed after the flood, but more than 100 still remain in flood plains.

The North Carolina Pork Council, a nonprofit that represents the pork industry, said the report targets industrial agriculture, but the largest threat comes from large municipalities.

"The American Rivers advocacy report is not an honest assessment of the most impaired waters in North Carolina," the group said in a statement. "This year, it is part of a coordinated campaign aimed at unfairly attacking North Carolina agriculture and livestock farmers."

Contrary to the American Rivers report, the Pork Council said hog farmers survived Hurricane Matthew with minimal flooding, saying 99.5 percent of lagoons were not affected.

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr said he hopes being on the list will spread awareness about the potential threats to the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers and encourage state lawmakers to fund a flood plain buyout program.

The Pork Council stated it "will continue to engage in productive conversations about a possible voluntary buyout program."


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  • Howard Roark Apr 11, 2:34 p.m.
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    I'd bet the farm on the fact that many (if not most, based on the region) of those 4 million people that rely on the river for drinking water are republicans.

    You're right. According to the EPA, Humans are the largest source of pollutants. But, you have subsets of causes that fall broadly under "humans." All of the sources in some part are due to humans. Agriculture, Stormwater Runoff, Wastewater, Fossil Fuels, Home/yard waste.

    Agriculture is one of the largest in the country. Mostly due to fertilizer and waste from farms. The fact that they threaten water supplies would fall on "humans."

    Personlly, I'm not talking about buying property next to a farm. But if I'm getting my water from a polluted supply which could possibly be prevented, the case is far from closed in my eyes.

    To me, it sounds like you're blaming democrats for a problem you don't have the ability to understand. Typical.

  • Henry Davis Apr 11, 1:39 p.m.
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    Just democrats being democrats. Whining about everything.

  • Henry Davis Apr 11, 1:38 p.m.
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    Humans, and boats pollute more,than hog farmers.

  • Henry Davis Apr 11, 1:37 p.m.
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    No they are just li,e the ones trying to legislate fines against hog, cow, and poltury farmers. If you do not like the smell, (do not buy build rent beside one.)
    Case closed.

  • Howard Roark Apr 11, 8:43 a.m.
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    You're missing the whole point. I think that they're implying that these are the biggest sources of pollutants into a water supply that 45% of the state's population relies on for drinking water.

    Unless, you know of another industry that has contaminated water supplies with millions of gallons of pollutants..

    The sheer number of hog and chicken farms along the river basin is what's so extraordinary.

  • Matt Starr Apr 11, 8:40 a.m.
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    Henry, There are many polluters of the Neuse. However, this source of pollution is something we can address sooner than latter. And lets be clear what we are asking for is funding for a voluntary program for those that own the facilities in the 100 year floodplain to use. -- Upper Neuse Riverkeeper

  • Henry Davis Apr 11, 8:34 a.m.
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    So nobody else is polluting the rivers? As usual, blame it on the farmers and no one else.