Gov. Push for County to Regulate Whitewater Center

Crews Cleaning Water After Brain-Eating Amoeba Death

CHARLOTTE, NC– The Governor is pushing for the U.S. National Whitewater Center to undergo county regulation like public swimming pools.

It comes after an 18-year-old contracted a brain-eating amoeba and died last week.

Crews are working to clean the water after preliminary tests found the amoeba present. “They’re drying out the basin,” said park visitor Jana Colpus.

“They’re working hard, yeah, to improve the situation.”

Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Marcus Plescia said Monday that the draining, drying and cleaning process typically takes up to six weeks.

“We don’t really know the next steps about how they’ll clean the lower part and what they’ll do next,” said Dr. Plescia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping the health department find water park consultants who can review existing systems to reduce risks.

The Whitewater Center says it gets treated water from the city which it says it filters and treats with ultraviolet radiation every day.

WCCB Charlotte requested log sheets documenting that process. The center did not respond.

“Because we don’t regulate them, they don’t provide any of those records to us,” said Dr. Plescia. “So, we don’t have that, but they do keep records of what they’re doing out there.”

Before it opened 10 years ago, the U.S. National Whitewater Center worked with local health officials and the state on a water quality plan that it regulates itself.

Governor Pat McCrory says the center needs to be reclassified like a swimming pool where there is mandated testing.

The health department says that could be tough.

“It’s a different kind of water. It’s turbid. It has a lot of stuff that gets thrown up into it,” said Dr. Plescia. “It’s a very different challenge to regulate it in a meaningful way.”

The Board of County Commissioners would likely have to direct the health department to regulate the park.

“I think it’s good if we try to do prevention to make sure this doesn’t, that we’re doing everything we can so that it doesn’t happen again,” said Commissioner Pat Cotham.

Most visitors want more regulation but are still loyal.

“I think they’re doing a great job the way they’re handling it,” said Colpus.