An aerial image recently taken by a NASA
satellite shows how excessive flooding may be impacting sound and ocean
waters all along the coast of North Carolina.
Captured on September 19, the satellite image
shows how the inland flooding has affected water quality in the White
Oak River, New River, Adams Creek, as well as their subsequent outflows
along the coastline. Per NASA, “the natural color image from Landsat 8
reveals how soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other
debris have discolored the water in the swollen rivers, bays,
estuaries, and the nearshore ocean.”
The National Weather Service office in Raleigh
provided a preliminary estimate that nearly eight trillion gallons of
rain fell on North Carolina from Sept 13 to 17, 2018. This was one of
several factors, along with storm surge, which led to catastrophic
flooding across many southwestern parts of the state.
Per NASA, the Trent River reached an all-time
high of 29 feet on September 17, which is more than twice the flood
stage, or the height at which the river will overflow and cause damage.
The Trent was one of 16 rivers that reached major flood stage in North
Carolina on September 18, and while the majority of the rivers have
started to subside, many still remain in major flooding stage.
Locally, on September 24, state officials
announced that bacteria levels at swimming sites in Dare and Currituck
counties meet state and Environmental Protection Agency standards for
swimming and other contact with the water.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program
reported that they had tested all established swimming sites in Dare
and Currituck counties and found that bacteria levels fall with the
state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for
swimming and water play.
The Recreational Water Quality Program has been
unable to test waters in other coastal counties due to the impacts from
The Program states that it will begin testing in
other coastal areas as soon as conditions are safe to do so, the areas
are accessible, and testing equipment is functional. Current advisories
will be lifted in part or in whole as these test results become
“Excessive rains and flooding can cause high
levels of bacteria in the water that can make people sick,” stated the
Recreational Water Quality Program in a press release. “Floodwaters and
storm water runoff can contain pollutants such as waste from septic
systems, sewer line breaks, pet waste, wildlife, petroleum products and
A precautionary water quality advisory remains in
effect for all other coastal counties besides Dare and Currituck, which
includes Hyde County. Residents and visitors, including fishermen, who
cannot avoid contacting those waters should exercise caution, limit
wound exposure, and thoroughly wash their hands.
Recreational water quality officials sample 209
sites throughout the coastal region, most of them on a weekly basis
from April to October. Testing continues on a reduced schedule during
the rest of the year, when waters are colder.
For more information about coastal recreational water quality and to see current alerts, visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/testing-site.