NC Coastal Federation Newport River Estuary Protection and Restoration Strategic Plan



    Water quality degradation of the Newport River has impacted the surrounding communities of Beaufort, Morehead City, Newport, and Carteret County. The river provides vital support to local commercial and recreational fishing, oyster aquaculture, swimming, and tourism. These uses depend on clean surface waters to thrive and maintain the region’s economic viability.

    Support from KIETS has enabled a team of researchers and experts to collect and analyze water quality data and long-term watershed trends to inform the collaborative process of developing a full watershed plan for the Newport River. In October 2021, the North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF) formalized a partnership with NC State professors Dr. Natalie Nelson and Dr. Angela Harris to develop a water quality sampling and analysis strategy that will serve as a baseline of important data to inform development of the restoration plan. The Coastal Federation, NC State research team and staff with the Shellfish Sanitation Section of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries worked together to finalize the sampling criteria and plan. Two field campaigns were developed for this first phase of the watershed restoration-planning project, one that targets base flow and one that targets stormflow conditions after at least a 1.5- inch rain event.

    The baseflow campaign was initiated on March 4, 2022, during which NC State researchers provided training to N.C. Coastal Federation staff and additional project team members on how to collect samples. In FY 2022-23, the Federation will work with the researchers, water quality experts, and local stakeholders to complete the water quality sampling, analyze the data and report on significant results and trends, develop hydrographs for the watershed, and develop a comprehensive watershed plan for the Newport River. This planning process will include data analysis; technical input from researchers, advisors, and project partners; extensive community input and public meetings; presentation to local governments; and the publication of a final plan in 2023 summarizing prioritized implementation strategies, funding options, timetables, and community outreach and engagement. The final plan will include targeted and prioritized implementation strategies that will include on-the-ground projects to protect and improve water quality in the Newport River.