Nonprofit assesses water quality threats in North Carolina, including plastic pollution

A graphic publicized by Coastal Carolina Riverwatch illustrates how plastic pollution reaches local waters and affects water quality, marine life and North Carolina’s fisheries. (Noah Weaver graphic)

MOREHEAD CITY — Coastal Carolina Riverwatch has completed drafts for three of five assessments on priority water quality concerns and is working on the next one, plastic pollution.

CCRW, a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to protecting and enhancing eastern North Carolina’s waters, land and communities, began earlier this year a collaborative project, Water Quality for Fisheries. According to a press release Sept. 21, the purpose is to identify and address the effects of water quality on the fisheries in North Carolina. Part of the process is researching threats to water quality and assessing current efforts to address them.

The group has identified five priority water quality concerns through a survey of commercial and recreational fishing communities: agriculture and factory farm runoff, stormwater runoff, plastic pollution, industrial pollution and municipal wastewater and septic tanks. Assessments are being conducted on each concern, and as of Friday, drafts of full assessments are available for agriculture and factory farm runoff, stormwater runoff and industrial pollution.

Plastic pollution, meanwhile, is still being assessed.

CCRW Executive Director Lisa Rider said in the Sept. 21 announcement CCRW and its partners are “identifying recommended future action to improve water quality through the voices of the coastal fishing community.”

“Through research and assessment, we know that plastic pollution impacts water quality and, therefore, fisheries,” Ms. Rider said.

CCRW said North Carolinians, including Carteret County residents, may reduce the effects of plastic pollution by the following measures:

·     Reducing plastics at the source.

·     Wearing natural, non-synthetic clothing.

·     Installing microplastic filtering/reducing devices in washing machines.

·     Picking up plastic litter.

·     Advocating for extended producer responsibility and waste reduction policies.

·     Supporting plastics research.

·     Buying non-plastic, multi-use products.

CCRW is contributing to the research into plastics by participating in a statewide microplastics study. According to a the nonprofit’s newsletter email Wednesday, CCRW is working on this study with partners from Waterkeepers Carolina, a science-based, environmental advocacy group representing the global Waterkeeper Alliance-licensed programs in North Carolina.

CCRW staff is collecting water samples from the New River for analysis. Plastic Ocean Project Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to field research, outreach and other efforts to address global plastic pollution, is handling the analysis.

“This data will help characterize North Carolina’s microplastic pollution and lead to future advocacy on plastic action, identify additional research needs and help establish the need for future prevention measures,” said coastal Carolina waterkeeper Rebecca Drohan in Wednesday’s newsletter.


Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(1) comment

David Collins

Gosh , amazing . They discovered what everyone already knew and are still assessing the data .

Instead of reinventing the lightbulb , perhaps research ways to strip the pollutants from the water . That would be far more useful than another silly chart that looks just like the others .

Welcome to the discussion.

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