CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - A doctor for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said systems used to treat and filter whitewater activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte were unable to properly filter the center's waters.
Dr. Jennifer Cope, a representative from the CDC, said the facility's chlorination and UV filtration systems were "inadequate," at a press conference Thursday at the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
Mecklenburg County health officials and the CDC addressed test results from water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.
At a press conference at 2 p.m. Thursday health officials said all 11 samples taken from the Whitewater Center tested positive for the amoeba Naegleria fowleri.
Mecklenburg County Medical Director, Dr. Stephen Keener said the CDC, state division of public health and health department are working to determine what preventative measures are necessary for the Whitewater Center. He went on to say that there is "no timeline" for when the whitewater channel will reopen.
Keener said the water was drained from the upper pool to the lower pool, and that no water has been drained out of the lower pond. It's unclear where that water will go.
The Whitewater Center suspended whitewater activities after preliminary testing determined the presence of the brain-eating amoeba that caused the death of an Ohio teen.
In addition to suspending whitewater activities, USNWC said it is taking the following actions:
- Drain the existing water in the system in order to dry the channels completely.
- Clean all concrete and rock surfaces within the whitewater channels.
- Test both the wells and the City of Charlotte water sources for the presence of Naegleria fowleri prior to refilling.
- Work with the CDC, local and state public health officials, and other professionals to determine the best means possible to implement additional water quality measures in an effort to minimize risks related to Naegleria fowleri.
“The objective is to develop a water quality program that improves our chances of reducing the risk of exposure to Naegleria fowleri and provide better overall water quality,” USNWC officials released in a statement.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina House voted 109-1 to pass an amendment that would allow officials to better regulate water recreation attractions, including the USNWC.
The whitewater system at the USNWC has been treated as a natural system. Unlike a swimming pool in practical or regulatory terms, anyone rafting or kayaking does so in natural bodies of water.
The amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, can be found in freshwater lakes, rivers, and hot springs in the United States, particularly in southern-tier states, but has recently caused infections as far north as Minnesota. Infection is rare. There have only been 10 reported cases in the last 53 years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are no known means of controlling the levels of the Naegleria fowleri in natural environments.