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Rafts back on the water at Whitewater Center

Whitewater Center reopens channels

People enter the Whitewater Center Wednesday morning. The center is opening channels today for the first time since June 23rd following a visitors death.
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People enter the Whitewater Center Wednesday morning. The center is opening channels today for the first time since June 23rd following a visitors death.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center reopened its channels Wednesday morning, six weeks after a teenage girl died after contracting a rare brain infection from a waterborne amoeba.

Group rafts hit the water around 10 a.m. Two staff members stood at the top of the steps leading down to the water, chatting excitedly as they watched two rafters navigate the course. Other staffers expressed excitement at being fully open again.

One woman sat looking up at the zip line, where her son and grandson would be flying overhead soon. They’d be rafting later in the day, she said, but she said she wasn’t really concerned because it seemed like the center did a good job cleaning their water.

The center posted a water quality plan on its website Tuesday.

Mecklenburg County health officials on Monday outlined a plan to monitor water at the center, which installed a new chlorination system to kill microbes. The county will monitor the center weekly through August but reduce visits in September and for the rest of the year.

Channels at the center were drained after the water tested positive in June for an amoeba that causes extremely rare but fatal infections. The center drained water from its channels, then refilled them after they were cleaned.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement that included the following: “... state health officials have reviewed and provided input on the revised operation and monitoring plans for re-opening the facility to the public. We believe these plans establish a well-reasoned approach to protecting the public’s health. We will continue to assist local public health officials as they monitor and evaluate facility operations.

Rachel Herzog: (704) 358-5358; @rachel_herzog

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