Describing this as a "monumental task" doesn't even come close:
The latest was spotted Thursday northeast of Flanners Beach on the edge of the Croatan National Forest. Blake was in the area with a group of kids during an environmental cleanup as part of an educational program to teach the youngsters about estuaries. “We ran right into a fish kill,” Blake said.
Before we continue, it must be said: We owe our Riverkeepers and their cadre of volunteer water-watchers a debt of gratitude which could never be fully repaid. Thousands of miles of creeks, streams and rivers, each source a potential route for contamination. Heck, just getting to some of these spots is an exhausting journey, but they're out there right now doing it. Thank you.
More research needs to be done during fish kills, but the Neuse River Foundation, a nonprofit, is running low on funds, Blake said.
“It’s got to the point we can’t pull some samples we need to because of the budget crunches,” he said. “For us to gain a better knowledge of what is going on and to take proper samplings, people can help by donating.”
Which you can do from right here.
In addition to the laborious task of monitoring, Riverkeepers also engage in direct action, sometimes of the legal variety:
Coal ash contains metals that can be toxic to wildlife and people in high concentrations. The Riverkeeper Foundation, in a lawsuit filed in January against SCE&G, had argued the plant was discharging contaminants without a permit. SCE&G says its has corrected seepage from a pond dam but that no contamination reached the Wateree River.
Contaminated groundwater has also been found around the ash ponds at Duke Energy’s power plants on the Catawba River, which flows north of the Wateree. N.C. officials have said the contamination might come from natural sources.
“It’s a very similar situation” to the S.C. contamination, said Rick Gaskins, executive director of the Riverkeeper Foundation. “I would argue the situations on Mountain Island Lake, Lake Norman and Lake Wylie are in some ways higher priorities because they’re a source of drinking water.”
You can help these folks out by going here.
Speaking of "hard to get to" places, this one may be the toughest:
The French Broad River is making an appearance on a list of dubious distinction this week.
According to the N.C. Division of Water Quality, an eight-mile section of the river south of Asheville has been named this week to its statewide 303 (d) list of impaired waters — those that don’t meet water quality standards or don’t support designated uses such as swimming, shellfish harvesting or supplying drinking water.
The 8.2-mile impaired section runs from Mud Creek (also a Class C stream) to N.C. 146, upstream of Asheville Regional Airport. The possible sources of the contamination are many, he said, and hard for the agency with its limited staffing to determine quickly.
Bacteria impairment in streams is usually the result of sewage or animal waste, said Hartwell Carson, the WNC Alliance’s French Broad riverkeeper. The bacteria can make humans sick and harm aquatic life.
To help determine the sources of the contamination throughout the watershed, he devised a monitoring program that began with the Swannanoa River watershed, where more than 500 samples were taken.
To further build on the community spirit of taking care of the commonly owned and used river, Carson is seeking volunteers to assist with the weekly samplings every Wednesday starting at noon and running through October.
He said no experience is needed. Training takes 10-15 minutes, then volunteers will head out to various sampling sites, take water samples, put them in coolers and take them back to the office, where they will be incubated and tested.
“Through this program we can educate the public,” he said. “If we’re trying to collect 30 samples in a day, it will take two of us most of day. But if we have five people, it allows us to go in a bigger, broader (area). The Division of Water Quality will come out to determine if a stream is good or bad, but they can’t do this intensive research to see where the source is coming from.”
As you can see, the Riverkeeper's work is not duplicative, it's complementary, and likely wouldn't be accomplished without them. If you'd like to help, go to WNCA's main website.