Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Larry Baldwin says he can't issue alerts for people to stay out of the water, so he is recommending people minimize contact with the Trent and Neuse Rivers after Hurricane Irene.
Baldwin says he is seeing some disturbing data from the rivers, including low levels of dissolved oxygen in the waters from the upper Trent River above Pollocksville to the Neuse and in the Neuse River primarily in the area around New Bern downstream below James City and to Black Beacon Point.
Additionally, salinity levels in the rivers are very low, which is expected after a hurricane or large rain event. Some other readings are indicating a lot of pollutants, including the turbidity level and the pH levels.
The drought conditions before Hurricane Irene mean many pollutants were being stored in the soil, but they have now presumably washed into the rivers, according to Baldwin. He says dead crab and dead fish have been reported.
"It is the RECOMMENDATION of the NRF that contact with the water at this time be minimal, and that if time is spent in contact, showering as soon after the exposure is also recommended," Baldwin wrote in an email Monday night. "The NRF CANNOT make an official alert to stay out of the water."