More than a hundred people gathered Sunday to float on tubes down the Catawba River with snacks and drinks in hand.
TheChive Charlotte, a social group that hosts public events and charitable fundraisers in the Charlotte community, hosted the float.
“It went fabulous,” said Joe Morquecho, an administrator with TheChive Charlotte. “It went off without a hitch.”
Two large groups, one of about 50 people and one of about 30, connected their floats and enjoyed a day out on the river, he said.
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The fun was not stopped by news of Friday’s 180,000 gallon sewage spill into Kings Branch, Morquecho said.
The group, along with people enjoying kayaking and fishing on Catawba, accessed the river at the Fort Mill dam, which is upstream from the spill site.
Sam Perkins, a Catawba riverkeeper, said the spill created “serious public health concerns” about recreation this weekend downstream of where Sugar Creek meets the Catawba River, the Charlotte Observer reported.
“The Lake Wylie dam and Riverwalk (Rock Hill) access points are upstream and unaffected, but downstream are the Catawba Indian, Landsford Canal and S.C. Highway 9 access points,” Perkins said. “This is a popular stretch, especially on a hot summer weekend.”
Kings Branch is a tributary to Sugar Creek in the Catawba River watershed. Sugar Creek flows into the main stem of the Catawba River.
Perkins said he encouraged the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to place warning signs at landings, which the department said it would, the Charlotte Observer reported.
As of Saturday, Landsford Canal State Park, a popular recreational area in South Carolina about 45 miles south of Charlotte, had posted advisories against boating, wade fishing and swimming in the water, the Charlotte Observer reported. The advisories are posted at the entrance to the park as well as bathrooms and fence posts.
A notice was also posted at the Catawba Indian Nation landing, according to DHEC.
The department states: “DHEC has performed modeling which indicates that the spill should pass downstream of the Landsford Canal and Catawba Indian Reservation landings by Monday evening. Based on this information, we will be able to recommend removal of the notices Wednesday morning.”
Perkins said there were reports of dead fish coming down from Sugar Creek.
The sewage spilled from a break in a 21-inch sewer pipe in the 700 block of Farmhurst Drive, according to Charlotte Water. Farmhurst Drive connects with Nations Ford Road, Charlotte Water reported.
Perkins said the timing of the spill was a problem as it takes 24 hours for bacteria to incubate it can be detected by water quality tests.
“It’s really unfortunate it happened as it did and no notice was given until late Friday,” he said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082