At 248 miles, The Neuse River is the longest river in North Carolina, stretching from its source at the Falls Lake Reservoir Dam in the Piedmont to its Pamlico Sound mouth and the nation’s second largest estuary. This week, American Rivers’ listed it, along with the Cape Fear River, as one of America’s most endangered rivers, with the following statement: “The Neuse and Cape Fear rivers are the drinking water source for more than four million people and support a billion dollar commercial and recreational coastal economy… Right now, hundreds of millions of gallons of swine waste and hundreds of tons of poultry waste from these concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are held in open lagoons or enormous piles containing bacteria, pathogens, concentrated levels of nutrient pollution and residual antibiotics that if released into nearby rivers and streams would cause significant contamination. In 2016, the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew overwhelmed numerous waste lagoons and piles, spilling into public waterways.”
The Orton Foundation, affiliate of Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation, is working with multiple groups to address the devastating impacts of industrial agriculture on the water and people of North Carolina. A recent partner to us, but a long-time and effective champion of the fight is Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr. Along with other informed groups, he believes the Floodplain Buyout Program in North Carolina, which worked with communities and farmers to after 1999’s Hurricane Floyd to move 100-plus waste lagoons out of the floodplains of critical rivers, is a solution that communities, farmers, industry and integrators can get behind. As the legislature considers funding Hurricane Matthew recovery, he and other partners are advocating that this program should be funded to help farmers protect NC waterways.