Community Member

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch

Morehead City, North Carolina

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) is a women-led grassroots organization driven by the voices of the coast to protect the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina. The White Oak River Basin – a 1,264 square-mile watershed – is suffering. A recent three-year study of fecal coliform bacteria (which causes hepatitis and other diseases) found that 89% of basin samples exceeded federal health standards–sometimes by thousands of times. Combined with contaminants from military bases, agriculture, and dangerous “forever chemicals,” the basin faces an urgent challenge. CCRW pushes for sustainable farmers and fisheries that support water quality improvements while monitoring potential pollution sources and reporting results of studies that implicate polluters to the proper agencies. Through research, community training, and oversight, CCRW collaborates with coastal communities to advocate for local, state, and federal policies that safeguard North Carolina’s waters.

Aerial photo of ruptured CAFO lagoon. Overflow can lead to hundreds of gallons of raw animal waste entering our environment. This influx of bacteria and nutrients can lead to E. Coli and bacteria contamination in seafood, algal blooms and fish kills, and air pollution around the spill. Photo from Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance.

Founded in 2019, CCRW is run by a two-person staff with decades of experience in government, solid waste infrastructure, and coastal resource management. Focused on the White Oak basin, which includes Onslow, Carteret, and portions of Pender and Jones counties (population: 350,000), CCRW collaborates with stakeholders from scientists to boat captains to increase coastal ecology and water quality knowledge. CCRW engages fisheries to pursue long-term protection measures through the Water Quality for Fisheries program, and their Pure Farms, Pure Waters monitors the New River for impacts from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Meanwhile, the Equity in the Environment Mentorship Program aims to diversify environmental leadership by empowering underrepresented youth. CCRW also lobbies for crucial environmental legislation, engaging local, state and federal legislators, all while reaching 20,000 viewers a month through social media, and 2,500 subscribers through their weekly newsletter.

Aerial photos of Stone’s Bay along the New River in Snead’s Ferry, show sediment released after a rainstorm into estuarine creeks leading into the New River (Onslow County). Taken by a CCRW volunteer.

For more information:

Community Conservation and Resilience on the North Carolina Coast – Duke Engage, August 2022

Efforts on to Keep Litter out of Stump Sound – Coastal Review, February 2021

Fish Kill Continues on Neuse River – Star News Online, October 2013

Stewart Sinclair

Stewart Sinclair

Stewart L. Sinclair is a writer, editor and educator from Ventura, California. His essays, reportage and narrative nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, The Millions, The Morning News, The New Orleans Review, Creative Nonfiction’s “True Story” series and elsewhere.


Lisa Rider, Executive Director and Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper


Social Media

Climate Impacts

Drought, Erosion-Subsidence, Flooding, Hurricanes/Tropical Storms

Environmental Justice Concerns

Fighting Development/Destruction of Wildlife/Extinction of Species, Hypoxia (Oceanic Dead Zones), Industrial Agriculture/Animal Waste, PFAS/PFOS, Sewage/Sewage Treatment


Community Organizing and Education, Green Infrastructure, Legal/permit challenges to development, contamination, pollution, etc, Nature-Based Solutions, Policy Reform, Political activism, including protests, petitions, and lobbying, Risk mapping and/or monitoring e.g. flooding/contaminants etc

501c3 Tax Deductible


Accepting Donations