North Carolina Cape Fear River Basin - Water Quality

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The Cape Fear's river has the largest basin in North Carolina. The Cape Fear River basin covers both the Piedmont and North Carolina Coastal Plains. The river starts with the coming together of the Deep and Haw Rivers. The river moves south and is joined by several streams and rivers that then flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The basin is located by several urban and industrialized cities, which include Wilmington, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Fort Bragg Military base. The impacts of having many populated areas have had a great impact on the water quality.

During the last couple of years, the Cape Fear River has been difficult to assess for several reasons. The river in 2002 suffered an extreme drought and saw many rivers and stream dried up. In 2003, the rivers basin monitoring was hampered by high flow, which resulted with several areas not being able to be sampled. The results of the last several years have been anything, but typical for this river and should be kept in mind.

The Cape Fear River basin has 24 sub basins and range from having poor to good water conditions. In 2003, many sites were samples, and each being sampled for several different aspects of the basin. For example, The Haw River Drainage rated the poorest because of a combination of agricultural land use and highly eroding soils, which caused several widespread no point source problems. Just downstream of the Haw River comes Reedy Fork, which got a good fair rating. This areas rating is declining because of the growing residential areas, mainly the city of Greensboro. During the last 5 years, investigators have reported 43 different incidents, which resulted in one million fish being killed. This should have an impact on fishing here. The incidents range from low dissolved oxygen, temperature stress, and toxic spills.

The Cape Fear Basin as a whole seems to have a lot of problems, which have been magnified the last couple of years by drought and high flows. The basin contains many different conditions and is impossible for me to tell everyone. The river is essential for the people and environment who live in the area.

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