Local News

Riverkeeper says she speaks for the Neuse

Posted January 12, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— As the new upper Neuse riverkeeper, Alissa Bierma is in charge of patrolling the river.

“I absolutely love the Neuse,” she said. “It can’t speak for itself, so we do it.”

Bierma and her colleague in New Bern, who is the lower Neuse riverkeeper, advocate for water quality and work to improve the water conditions through investigation, education and public involvement.

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Alissa Bierma Riverkeeper 'speaks for' the Neuse

The Neuse River runs through 11 counties in North Carolina, encompassing more than 6,000 square miles of watershed.

Bierma says the river is in trouble.

"There's a reason there are two full-time people on this job, because we are one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation,” she said.

All that growth brings problems that flow directly into the river.

"We don't want development to stop. That's a completely unrealistic viewpoint. What we do want is responsible development,” Bierma said.

Too much mud is running off the land, she said, which is hurting life in the river. For example, fish have an easy time spotting food in crystal-clear water.

"In mud, you have this incredible problem: finding your food. At these very basic levels, too much mud is a problem,” Bierma said.

The extra mud also hurt Falls Lake during the drought. It wasn't just a lack of rainwater that dried out the lake.

"We have less space to put it, because all the dirt has been building up on the bottom, making the lake shallower,” she said.

Bierma also says people have to be careful about what goes down storm drains.

“If something goes down that gutter that you see outside your house, it ends up here,” she said, pointing to the Neuse River. “We rely on the river every single day. And it relies on us."

Bierma and her colleague work with the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation. The group is training volunteers to help keep an eye on the Neuse.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • boomylar Jan 12, 2009


  • tsquaring Jan 12, 2009

    I've canoeing down the Neuse river since I was in Boy Scouts. I've never seen her on it.

  • CrewMax Jan 12, 2009

    DiHydrogen oxide kills thousands every year. And it is prevalent in even the finest of homes. People should be made aware.

  • anneonymousone Jan 12, 2009

    OOOOOPS! That would be dihydrogen oxide.

  • anneonymousone Jan 12, 2009

    Yes, animal waste (domesticated and wild) creates pollution, but what animals eat, for the most part, does not have the ecological impact (waste during all phases of food production, fertilizers, preservatives, flavorings, transportation, packaging, disposal) that human waste does.

    NPR had a story on a few days ago about the amount of artificial cinnamon flavor that ends up in the Puget Sound during winter holidays when so many people are eating holiday treats.

    Non-human animals are less likely to require such things in their food.

    I'm not trying to encourage "Eeeeek! Chemicals!" hysteria; I've got some hydrogen dioxide on the table next to the computer and I'm happy to have it to drink.

    I'm saying that how we live has a cost, and awareness may do more than defensiveness.

    Speak on, Riverkeeper. Some of us are listening.

  • drnc Jan 12, 2009

    Seventy-five years ago dead hogs were thrown in the Neuse River and sewage was discharged untreated into the river. I have a house on the lower Neuse near Oriental. The river belongs to everyone in North Carolina. We have an obligation to make sure the river is preserved for our children to enjoy.

  • Old Raleigh Native Jan 12, 2009

    Just like davidgnews, myself and hundreds of others enjoy fishing, boating, swimming and drinking from Falls Lake and the Neuse River. Instead of criticizing and bashing this woman who is trying to protect our water why not see what you can do to help.

  • davidgnews Jan 12, 2009

    You all are being taken advantage of in the name of global warming...it's a myth! NCcarguy

    There was nothing in that article about global warming. The Neuse has its problems, and there are quite a few even upstream of Falls Lake. Personally, I like to fish that lake and like to see it stay clean.

    You should try either less caffeine, reading for comprehension, or better yet, go fishing in Falls Lake. Tight lines!

  • Justin T. Jan 12, 2009

    I thought "Neusie" was the voice of the Neuse. It's people like all of you who are the real problem. Let's just let the cartoon fish do the talking and keep pesky humans out of it.

  • Jeremiah Jan 12, 2009

    "Here's the funny part.....It's people like this that dictate how many regulations engineers are required to go through before something is developed....it can't change the outcome, it just creates bigger government! and a previous poster got it right to begin with....raw waste from animals and fish are WAY more toxic than what comes form humans, and where do all think that stuff was supposed to go to start with??? You all are being taken advantage of in the name of global warming...it's a myth!"

    Wow, where to begin. THat is such a silly and uniformed post. the riverkeeper doesnot make regulations for engineers. raw waste from wildlife are not more toxic than all the pollutants humans introduce to the river. And this has nothing to do with global warming. Whether there is or isn't global warming should have little to do with keeping our waterway un-polluted.