Neuse River Salinity Levels Return To Normal

Dec 13, 2017

Paerl lab tech Jeremy Braddy (light blue shirt), Paerl lab grad student Bryce Van Dam (blue jacket), and Marchetti lab grad student Weida Gong.
Credit UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

Record salinity levels revealed in the Neuse River early this month are just now approaching normal levels.  Jared Brumbaugh has more.

On December 4th, a salinity of 10 units, which is about a third of the strength of sea water, was measured at Streets Ferry Bridge more than 12 miles upstream of New Bern.  That’s the highest it’s been in a decade.  Research Associate at the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City Nathan Hall says only an inch of rainfall last month meant less freshwater coming into the system from areas upstream, decreasing the river flow by half.

“You have low river flows, it allows the salinity to creep back up the estuary, the salt water especially in the bottom waters because saltwater is more dense than the incoming freshwater in the river.”

Hall says salinity levels at the Streets Ferry Bridge have returned to a normal level of zero units.  The Neuse River Modeling and Monitoring Program involves boat trips every other week to collect water samples at 11 different locations from the Streets Ferry Bridge to the mouth of the Neuse River. For PRE, I’m Jared Brumbaugh. 

ModMon testing on December 4th
Credit UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

ModMon testing on November 6
Credit UNC Institute of Marine Sciences