Mission and Achievements

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) is a women-led grassroots organization driven by the voices of the coast and working through community collaboration to protect water quality and coastal habitat.

The work is funded by your donations and accomplished by an efficient and effective two-person staff, dedicated board of directors, top-of-their-field scientific and research advisors, local government and industry community stakeholders, pro-bono attorney groups, captains and pilots, university partners, local sustainable businesses, and local advocates.

Our mission is to protect the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina.


Through Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s boots-on-the-ground rapid response program we have documented significant water quality problems that threaten human health and aquatic life and utilize that information to increase awareness and support for improved policies.  We conduct research and use facilitated collaborative methods to engage advocates, scientists, industry, government, and other stakeholders to provide top-down prioritized gaps-in-service programming for the communities in coastal NC.  

In 2023, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch…

  • Published Weekly Newsletter to over 2,500 subscribers. Sign up, click here.
  • Investigated significant pollution events and published outreach content to a social media audience of over 20,000 per month and 2,500 newsletter subscribers. 
  • Lobbying: Farm Act and NC wetlands – social media,  Federal CWA 2023 legislation, NC SB 318 – native plants, HB 689 – EJ, Topsail balloon release ban, WK Lobby day in Raleigh – 6 legislator meetings.
  • Investigated potential pollution events (averaging 2 per month). PFPW flights x12 – website, Swim advisories x6 – facebook, NPDES violations x6, Development – Sneads Ferry, Streambank vegetation clearing and pesticide use – Sneads Ferry and Newport
  • Entities were held accountable for pollution through proper documentation and reporting (averaging 1 monthly violation reports). PFPW flights – same 4 facilities reported for 5 months, Southbridge and Hawthorn, Beaufort marina
  • Advocating for the protection of coastal habitat, water quality, and quality of life by providing comments on legislation, policies, regulations, and local planning and development activities (averaging 2 public meetings per month). AWG x6 averaging 10 attendees, Lobby day, CAFO hearings x3, SOM screenings x2, Tidal Alert x3, Town commissioner hearings x3, Peletier community meetings x3, 
  • Outreach:


  • Provided services to the following river systems;
    • North
      • Mosaic – North River community
      • PFAS – foam collection 
      • Fire training facility education and investigation
      • AWG
      • Adopt a drain
    • Newport
      • PFAS – WKC
      • PFAS – AFF foam at marinas. Edu and outreach
      • Development public comments – Gibbs Creek 
      • AWG
      • Beaufort Farmers Market 
      • NCMDS
      • King tide flood mapping – site
      • Adopt a drain 
    • White Oak 
      • PFAS – WKC
      • Development public comments – Peletier 
      • AWG
    • New 
      • PFAS – WKC
      • Development public comments – Southbridge and Hawthorn 
      • Oyster mortality reporting 
      • HAB monitoring 
      • AWG
      • NR roundtable 
      • Lower NR Watershed Restoration Plan – start
      • PFPW research 
      • Film screenings – edu 
      • Trash Trout and microplastics WKC – data collection and sharing 
      • Onslow 2040 plan
      • PFPW fly-in event 
  • Create and sustain gaps-in-service programming that protects water quality:
    • Water Quality for Fisheries (WQ4F).
      • This work encompasses a comprehensive long-term strategy to study and advocate for water quality protection measures in coastal communities.
      • Achievements for this program in 2023:
        • Collaborated and communicated with fisheries representatives to address concerns about how water quality impacts fisheries and next steps on prioritized project development.
        • Collaboratively made recommendations on what more needs to be done to improve water quality for fisheries.
        • Proposed next steps that address gaps in addressing what is not currently being done to address water quality issues.
        • Funded for a WQ4F/PFPW Project in 2023-24 addressing IWG questions from the top water quality priority category.
        • Screened the WQ4F Film “Tidal Alert” several times in person and virtually in 2023.
    • Pure Farms, Pure Waters, (UPDATED IN 2023)
      • This work encompasses a comprehensive long-term strategy to create a just food system that does not damage water or communities.
      • Achievements for this program in 2023:
        • Continued this work in 2023 with funding provided by Waterkeeper Alliance. 
          • Through the PFPW program, CCRW regularly collects water samples from the New River to monitor for impacts associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). With the help of Dr. Rachel Noble and undergraduate  student, Dan Crownover at UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, we are expanding the scope of our water monitoring efforts. Dr. Noble’s  lab will be analyzing our water samples for fecal bacteria associated with swine waste, as well as DNA analysis to determine the source of contamination.
          • Dan will also be analyzing nutrients and total suspended solids (TSS), which can sometimes occur with CAFO runoff. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can influence algal blooms and finfish health. TSS examines how cloudy the water is, which can influence the feeding habits of finfish and shellfish. Adding these parameters will give us a better holistic view on water quality impacts from CAFOs.
          • Dan will also assist with mapping the sampling data, as well as sources of pollution. This will make the results easier to communicate to the public, stakeholders, and decision makers while allowing CCRW to better understand the relationship between human systems and water quality in the White Oak Watershed.
          • Picture – Lisa may have higher quality photo: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1broiOLkxqBzUR6p5FPeuJLd-GqIWaVfn/view?usp=sharing 
        • Documented pollution and reported the impacts of CAFOs 
        • Slowed the proliferation of directed biogas projects.
        • Supported funding and mechanisms for buyout of swine and poultry operations in the floodplain.
        • Building groundwork to achieve permitting for poultry operations.
        • We conducted water monitoring in waterways adjacent to CAFOs. 
        • Advocated for more protective water standards.
        • Utilized DNA tracking to identify pollution sources.
        • Provided support to communities being impacted by CAFOs.
          • CCRW is collaborating with the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research to survey residents of Onslow County that live near CAFOs. The survey will ask about the participant’s interactions with CAFOs, issues they have, awareness of CAFOs, and fishing practices. The results will help CCRW understand the impacts of CAFOs beyond water quality and get direct feedback from community members.
          • As we conduct our research, we want to make sure the coastal community is informed of our work and has the opportunity to share their opinion. A new part of our PFPW project will include door-to-door outreach and seasonal community meetings. This outreach aims to get community members involved in understanding the connection between CAFOs and water quality. CCRW will provide educational materials, answer questions about our work and provide resources for residents who are being impacted by the CAFO industry.  
        • Provided support to local sustainable farms and farmers.
    • Equity in the Environment
      • Worked with CCC to provide a modified program version during summer camps.
      • Developed plan for Youth Advocacy Working Group to begin in 2024.
    • Algae Bloom Response Project
      • Provided response for HABs and Fish Kill events in the White Oak River Basin
        • Monthly investigation by air. 
        • SouthWings partnership (donated flights) for fly-over investigation.
        • Citizen science (Advocacy Team – click here to join) drone investigation.
        • Waterkeeper algae identification, reporting, and local notification (news media, boots-on-the-ground, and through connections with the local fishing community).
    • PFAS Research and Outreach in Coastal NC
      • CCRW participated in multiple research projects on PFAS in coastal NC in 2023.
      • Applied for funding to continue PFAS research (funded for 2024-26).
    • Advocacy Book Club. 
    • Advocacy Working Group 
    • Micro-plastics Research 
      • CCRW participated in a Statewide micro-plastics research in 2022-23.
      • Trash Trout – Partnership with City of Jacksonville
      • Hosted 11th Annual NC Marine Debris Symposium 
  • Environmental Justice:
    • We take legal action for communities when necessary and when legal representation is available. In 2023, CCRW consulted with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Environmental Protection Network, and others to determine priorities for legal action that protects communities of the White Oak River Basin.

CCRW Equity and Inclusion Statement:

CCRW’s vision is to be a diverse, culturally competent organization, capable of including and serving all people in our watersheds. This vision calls for our board, members, volunteers, and staff to be composed of individuals who are representative of the racial diversity that exists in the communities we serve and for our advocacy, programs, and organizational processes to be aligned to create a culture of inclusion. Our work as a clean water advocacy organization is directly impacted as a result of systemic racism and inequality. The concentration of harmful land uses, industry, and flooding that impact water quality is a product of these forces; we must acknowledge and recognize this for our approaches and strategies to be successful. For there to be positive, statewide, systemic change in how our waterways and communities experience the environment, we must also engage in the systemic causes contributing to water quality issues in certain communities in the first place.

CCRW is a Waterkeeper Alliance member serving the White Oak River Basin.

CCRW advocates for clean water for ALL.