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Neuse Paddlers Worry About River's Future

Posted April 21, 2007
Updated April 25, 2007

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— Water from the Neuse River becomes tap water for more than 200,000 people in Wake and Johnston counties, but a national conservation group says it's one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the country.

For Rob Prokop, spending time with his kayak, his paddle, and his 6-year old son Nathaniel on the Neuse is quality time well spent. However, he said he grows more concerned each year that the quality of the river is running out of time.

“A lot of things as we've paddled along the river, we've seen spills coming in and people draining into the river,” Prokop said. “That type of thing needs to be stopped.”

Each spring, volunteers pull trash from the Neuse. They've collected 74,000 pounds of it in the last 5 years – 22,000 pounds just last week.

“We're hoping that at some point the trash totals start going down, because it means we're making a positive impact in terms of removing all the trash,” said Dean Naujoks, an Upper Neuse river-keeper.

American Rivers listed the Neuse River as the eighth most endangered river in the country. The nonprofit conservation group blames poorly planned development around the river.

Raleigh is working to slow some of the damage with tougher development rules. However, paddlers at this weekend's Neuse River Festival said they can sense the impact of growth.

“You could hear the building going on in neighborhoods along the river last time we went down it,” said paddler Greg Stone.

People who have worked at the festival for a long time said the landscape along the river has changed. One of the biggest changes has been the U.S. Highway 64 bypass.

“A lot of people know (the river) exists,” said Kathy Capps with Raleigh’s Parks and Recreation Department. “They've traveled over it on Highway 64 or Capital Boulevard. But a lot of people haven't been out on it before.”

It’s the 11th year for the Neuse River Festival, where more than 100 people paddled 3.5 miles down the river and then ate, played games and enjoyed music at Anderson Point Park.

7 Comments

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  • ninenine99 Apr 23, 2007

    In order to get regular people concerned about stuff like this, we need to force the "preachers" and "ministers" to tell their sheeple to take care of the environment.

  • 2little2late Apr 23, 2007

    where do all these people (industry "experts") think the rainwater we get comes from?..moisture is pulled from our streams,lakes,oceans, and rivers to form rainclouds that pour those same chemicals back onto the land that is used to grow the crops we eat..and not only "we" eat..all the smaller species eat this junk too...us being at the top of the food chain means that evreything we eat, whether crops or smaller animals, contains increasing amounts of the pollutants that eventually will affect our bodies...

  • tritech Apr 23, 2007

    where is anderson park? i've tried driving there and it ends where what seems to be a bridge, but is blocked and labeled "for authorized vehicles only".

  • ladyblue Apr 22, 2007

    Reelthing you have said it perfectly. We are destroying our own habitat.Maybe people haven't been posting today but I couldn't help but notice the attention this article brought interest to readers. Progress will go on but I hope we all start realizing some of the impact we are placing on this one and only planet we have to live on.

  • ReelThing Apr 22, 2007

    OldRebel, I've been saying that for years. You will hear all waste facilities claim what they discharge is cleaner than what is drawn from the river. A huge amount of the pollution begins in the Tiangle area (Falls Lake). While green, plush lawns are pretty, an enormous amount of synthetic fertilizer and other lawn chemicals, along with runoff from streets and parking lots wind up in our lakes/waterways. Ironic that such a "green" populous would do such harm. It's easy to go east or south (downstream), look down your nose and say, "THEY need to clean this up". I could go on. My point, WE ALL need to clean up our act!

  • oldrebel Apr 22, 2007

    Everyone seems to worry about the river above where they draw their draw their drinking waters from...no one seems to worry about the same waters below that point. Make it a law that all municipalities draw their water from directly below the point they release their treated sewage waters and then maybe there will be an increased awareness that what you put into the water as your sewage, is someone elses drinking water downstream.

  • Wake1 Apr 22, 2007

    We can't clean this river up fast enough!