The Lake Wylie Marine Commission is glad to see the oversight of U.S. National Whitewater Center water won’t soon be flushed away.
“Members of the Lake Wylie Marine Commission are appropriately concerned about anything affecting public health and aquatic health in Lake Wylie,” said Lynn Smith, commission chairwoman. “We appreciate Mecklenburg County’s attention to conditions at the whitewater center.”
Rusty Rozzelle, Mecklenburg County water quality program manager, updated the commission at its meeting Aug. 22 on the disposal of 7 million gallons of water from the whitewater center following contamination with Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that can lead to fatal infections as it impacts the brain. An Ohio woman who had been at the whitewater center died earlier this year from contact with the amoeba, after which water tests discovered it in the center’s water.
Rozzelle described the process of treating the water as “hyper-chlorination,” to reduce the prospect of Naegleria fowleri contamination to “near zero.” Rozzelle said the two-day process was monitored constantly by Mecklenburg County officials.
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“Over the two days, my staff conducted 567 analyzes of water samples involving over 300 staff hours,” he said.
The water was drained over soil toward Long Creek, a tributary of Lake Wylie.
“We tested upstream and downstream of the spot in Long Creek where the treated water joined Long Creek,” Rozzelle said. “We found no sign of stress on aquatic life as a result of the discharge.”
The county will continue monitoring water at the whitewater center for the coming year. New water quality regulations will be determined later.
The whitewater center has been a main concern for the marine commission in recent months. Rozzelle and Sam Perkins of Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation spoke about the issue at the commission’s July 25 meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to be informed, Joe Stowe, executive director of the commission, said prior to the meeting.
Following the meeting, commission chair Lynn Williams confirmed there was a motion made to support the procedure, but it did not pass.
In a press release sent after the meeting Smith said “None of us have the technical expertise to deal with issues like this. Your help has been instrumental in allowing us to understand the issues involved.”
This month’s meeting was follow up to the July 30 water release.
“The main business was a follow-up on the resolution of the situation at the whitewater center and the procedures now in place there,” Stowe said.
“Also, we approved a natural gas line to go under the Allen Plant canal discharge to bring service to lower South Point Road in Belmont,” he said.
The marine commission works on issues related to water quality and quantity on Lake Wylie. Representatives come from all three counties surrounding the lake. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, 5220 Crowders Cove Road, Lake Wylie. For more information, visit lakewyliemarinecommission.com.
John Marks: 803-831-8166