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Refilling process begins on Whitewater Center’s raft channels

dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The U.S. National Whitewater Center began refilling its raft channels Friday after the center had to drain the water, which tested positive for brain-eating amoeba last month.

Mecklenburg County announced the news Friday, saying public health workers were monitoring the refilling of the man-made whitewater channels.

Whitewater center officials said it could take two to four days to completely fill the whitewater rivers with 12 million gallons of water. The water is coming primarily from Charlotte Water, the county said.

An 18-year-old Ohio woman died of an amoeba after rafting at the Whitewater Center in June.

The facility closed its whitewater activities after the water tested positive for the deadly organism.

Health and environmental agencies have been working with the center to drain the water and clean the channels while developing a new system to filter the water.

The water was heavily chlorinated, dechlorinated and went across a vegetation field before entering the Catawba River.

The sediment, which health officials said contained most of the amoeba, was scattered across a field above the center. Health officials said broadcasting the sediment would kill anything in it.

“We remain engaged with the whitewater center and will continue monitoring the situation to ensure that no imminent public health risk exists,” Dr. Marcus Plescia, the county health director, said Friday.

There is no word yet on when the raft channels are expected to reopen to the public.

At a county commissioners meeting Wednesday, Plescia proposed that the center install chlorination equipment, test it to make sure it works — and then set formal standards enforced by the county, likely through a new rule regulating the center.

Commissioners debated the proposal but took no action on it.

Last week, the center drained about 6 million gallons of water into a tributary of the Catawba River.

Observer staff reports contributed

WBTV is the Observer’s news partner

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