The Neuse River flows approximately 200 miles from its headwaters in Orange and Person Counties to its mouth at the Pamlico Sound. The Neuse contains over 3,000 stream miles. The drainage area of the Neuse River Basin is 6,234 square miles, which is 8.8% of the State of North Carolina. Agricultural land use comprises 35% of the basin, 34% of the basin is in forest, wetlands and open water account for 22%, scrub growth and barren land account for 4%, and the remainder (5%) is developed.
The Neuse drainage basin encompasses all or part of 23 counties (Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Person, Pitt, Sampson, Wake, Wayne, Wilson). The basin supports 1.01 million people (14.9% of the state residents), the majority of whom live in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, Smithfield, Goldsboro, Kinston, and New Bern.
The primary pollutants in the Neuse River are sediment, organics, and nutrients, particularly nitrogen. The North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources has mandated a 30% reduction of nitrogen loading within the basin by the year 2001 to reduce algal blooms, which have recently killed millions of fish.
Researchers at N.C. State University are currently conducting seven research or extension projects in the Neuse River Basin. The majority of these projects focus on preventing agricultural runoff and promoting sustainable farming systems for farmers. The intent of one project is to protect urban water quality by increasing the ability of stormwater detention basins.
In addition to the seven basin-level projects, North Carolina State University researchers are conducting 17 regional projects that are directly applicable to this river basin. Some of these projects target the effects of water pollution on the aquatic resources, while other projects focus on the control of polluted runoff from agricultural land uses. There are also urban stormwater control projects.
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