Local News

Modern Day Cavalry Keeping an Eye on the Neuse

Posted August 5, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Fish kills are a fact of life. They've been happening forever, but something is making them happen more frequently, and the state wants it stopped. That's why leaders put together a team of researchers to watch over our waterways, particularly one of our most troubled-- the Neuse River.

Twice a week, members of the state's rapid response team ride like a modern-day cavalry along the Neuse. Their purpose is to keep an eye on nature and to pinpoint problems that could threaten it.

Sophisticated equipment measures oxygen levels and other factors often associated with the Neuse's fish kills.

Team member Chris Roessler says that technology lets his group keep track of the river by seeing where the stress of the fish will be higher. The equipment gives the team a little bit of a predictive capability.

Fish kills can strike and vanish in a matter of hours, making it difficult for scientists to figure out what caused them. The weekly records should make the next one easier to understand, and if necessary, easier to react.

The team is also admittedly a public relations tool, a chance for the State to show North Carolinians that it cares about our rivers. It's here on a regular basis trying to protect them.

State leaders hope that will reinforce the trust between themselves and the public.

"We are one of the steps in trying to improve the river," says response team member Dawn Davis. "We're out here accumulating data that in the past has been hard for the Washington office and the Raleigh office to get down here."

Now, that information will be available so inspectors and lawmakers can have it nearby as they make decisions and rules affecting us all.