The Roanoke River was that way when I was a child. My grandmother wouldn't let us near it because it was so polluted. That's 40 years ago, mind you.
It's gotten worse and worse since we've moved here. I think in some ways the greenways have contributed to the problem as well. People are so inconsiderate and throw stuff everywhere. You can see from the debris that's floating. I never would have thought it was polluted 40 years ago too. Wow. You would think over four decades they would have actually worked on making it less polluted. It's a damn shame.
I'd guess it's gotten less polluted over the last 40 years. It looks like you found a bit of an eddy where debris and trash has accumulated, but that doesn't mean the whole river is as bad.I still wouldn't eat a native fish from that river though. Stocked trout are another matter entirely. :)
Although I like the idea of the greenways, in reality I really detest them. I do think they contribute to the trash, because people just don't give a damn and now they have easier access to the water's edge. Also, people really don't consider water run-off, and what water picks up when it's running off!! Just because you littered in the parking lot doesn't mean a nice, hard rain (or wind) can't move it to water, where it floats on down, and masses up with the rest of the crap.And, thanks to the idiotic idea of paving the greenways with asphalt, there is that whole mess to deal with too. Contaminant run-off from there, heat island effect, and so on.Of course .. this type of problem is hardly new. When the first white people arrived at what would be Jamestown they found the waters abundant with food. 14' long sturgeons, huge oysters, etc. Within just a couple years (and I do mean that literally) it was a waste pit and the people were starving.In 400 years, we've learned very little.