CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The tranquil waters of Long Creek in North Charlotte may look safe, but the Catawba Riverkeeper was still seen along the banks taking water samples following a sewage spill earlier this week.
The spill was discovered near Oakdale Road on Tuesday by workers from Charlotte Water.
"This is the largest spill I have seen going back in records 10 years for the Catawba River Basin," said Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper.
More than 15 million gallons of wastewater spilled into Long Creek, which also empties into the Catawba River.
The leak is now capped, but danger remains. A no swim advisory has been issued for areas of the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County because bacteria levels remain high.
"It is something where you see water, especially if you smell something, give it some time for that water to clear up and where it looks nice and blue and much more inviting to swim," said Perkins.
But the Catawba River is much more than a local swimming hole, it's also a source of drinking water. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control told FOX 46 Charlotte drinking water is safe.
The Catawba Riverkeeper also told FOX 46 Charlotte the heavy rain over the last few days is helping flush out the bacteria from the spill, but what it's not helping is flood debris that is scattered across the Catawba River.
The debris can be dangerous to boats of any size. A kayaker who was rescued on Wednesday learned that lesson first hand.
"Anytime we have really heavy rains, you have heavy flow, it is very dangerous to be on the river because like that kayaker you can get flipped and knocked out," said Perkins.
Officials expect the river could return to normal by next week.