One Eastern North Carolina river is named River of the Year by American Rivers

The Neuse River is named River of the Year on the Eve of the Clean Water Act’s 50th Anniversary
Eastern Carolina river named River of the Year by American Rivers
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - American Rivers is naming one of Eastern North Carolina’s rivers, ‘River of the Year’ on the eve of the Clean Water Act’s 50th anniversary.

Though the Neuse River has been impacted by textile mill pollution and other manufacturing, government officials, environmental advocates, and community members have worked hard to create a healthier and happier waterway.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Michael Regan was thrilled to attend Monday’s event recognition.

“Celebrating the Neuse River as the National River of the Year. It just gives me such pleasure knowing that we’ve worked really hard to rehabilitate this river, and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Government officials, environmental advocates, and community members joined together at old Waynesborough Park to honor the Neuse River as American Rivers, River of the Year.

For Sound Rivers Tar River Keeper, Jillian Howell-- acknowledging the progress and hard work of the Neuse River while addressing the issues that still need to be fixed, matters the most.

“Pretty meaningful to us to have people gather out here to acknowledge how much progress has been made to clean up this river, and also to recommit to address the pollution issues that are still very much so existing here,” says Howell.

Howell says issues include, “Impacts from industrial agriculture, bacteria, and excessive nitrogen and phosphorus. As climate impacts continue to worsen, flooding for communities that are living along the Neuse River, that will continue to worsen as well.”

American Rivers President and CEO, Tom Kiernan, believes finding natural solutions for water to be absorbed will help.

“We need to figure out natural solutions to have the water absorbed in the different wetlands that are to the side of the river so that the flooding is reduced over time,” Kiernan says.

Though there is still work to be done, for many, the Neuse River holds many opportunities.

Regan says, “It provides a place of solace, recreation, substance for so many people, but also that cultural connection. It’s also good for our economy. So, this is just a feel good- win, win, win.”

While the Neuse River is worthy of recognition for how far it’s come, many also believe it’s deserving of added protection from the ongoing threats of climate change and pollution.

The American Rivers encourages leaders across the watershed to work together to reduce pollution and protect the river.

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