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Expert: Large algae bloom in Pamlico River 'perfect storm' of rain, heat

Posted August 23

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— The state issued a bulletin Tuesday letting the public know about a large algae bloom in the Pamlico River. Officials advised people not to swim in, or have contact, with the water, but Pamlico River keeper Heather Deck said the warning is too late.

The algae started showing up just over a week ago near Washington. Deck said it is the perfect storm of a rainy winter and summer heat.

"We're into day eight or nine with no rain in the forecast, it's likely to continue," she said.

Deck said her immediate concern is for people who swim or play in the river.

"It's a health issue, I don't want my children swimming in it in this condition that might have toxins in it and affect their health in a very serious way," she said.

Swallowing the water, eating the fish, or even exposing an open wound to the water could have serious health consequences.

Deck said she doesn't know why it took the state Department of Environmental Quality nearly a week before notifying the public of the danger.

"It's a very good question, why did it take eight days for a notice to come out because this really isn't a condition that's safe for people to be swimming and skiing in," she said. "Whoever is in charge of the public notification...it sounds like there needs to be a bit of a better process."

Jon Anglemyer said despite the warnings, he is not going to let the last few days of summer slip away. He said he is taking his two kids tubing before school starts again.

"I overall have trust in the DEQ and I think everything should be fine. I read the news bulletins and it sounded like as long as you're in deep water you're fine. We are not going to swim in the tops of the creeks," he said.

Deck wants to see a long term goal established for the river, and better staffing for state agencies in charge of the waterways.

"We need to get it clean and keep it clean," Deck said. "I'd like my children to be able to come out and swim without getting sick."

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