Local News

Neuse River Part One

Posted July 31, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Beyond the beauty of its sunsets and wide open waters, the Neuse was a troubled river when WRAL-TV5 News studied it seven years ago.

"The river's in a dying situation and we've go to care about it," Dr. Stan Riggs said in 1990.

Today, the Neuse maybe hurting even more.

Fish kills. We've seen a dramatic increase in recent years. We've seen a mysterious organismt hat poisions fish and eats flesh. Pfiesteria had not yet been discovered in 1990.

Also, hog farms have sprung up along the river at an explosive rate. Scientists say much of the animal waste from these farms eventually gets into the river from runoff and through the air.

Nitrogen from farms and sewage treatment plants. It robs the river of oxygen. We pointed out the polluters in 1990. We're happy to report that many of them, including Hillsborough, Flynt Fabrics, Weyerhaeuser and Cherry Point, made major improvements. But others have taken their place. Industries and cities like Kinston with troubles treating waste. And there are stillplenty of mobile homeparks and small subdivisions fouling the river because of treatment systems that don't work. Dozens of schools along the Neuse were in the same boat in 1990. Most of their problems have been fixed.

Clear cutting continues to be the problem it was seven years ago. Too many loggers are stripping our forests bare allowing soil to wash off and poison the river.

And runoff from construction sites. This continues to be a big problem. Following our documentary, state regulators started cracking down. We've seen a sharp increase in enforcement of regulations and fines.

And we've seen new laws to nab environmental criminals. And a Rapid Reponse Team has been established to respond to fish kills on the Neuse.

Still, there are disappointments.

  • Many of the solutions recommended by the public and water quality experts in our study seven years ago have not been implemented.
  • The state continues to reject the idea of a pollution tax.
  • Money for research has been hard to come by.
  • And despite seven years of debate, the state still has not approved a comprehensive plan to protect the Neuse River.