Sludge Mucked, Dumped at USNWC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Is the stuff dredged up from the bottom of the Whitewater Center’s upper pond last Wednesday safe to spread out in nearby woods? A center employee asked WCCB to find out. The employee says, “The stuff is quite gross. It basically smells like raw sewage, if not worse.”

They say the process of pulling the stuff out of the upper pond is called “mucking.” WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty asked how often it happens. The employee says, “It used to happen every week, every two weeks and I think this year it’s happened maybe three times.”

The manager for Mecklenburg County’s Water Quality program tells Fogarty the Whitewater Center does not need a permit to spread the stuff out in the woods. He says it’s considered biomass: mostly decaying plant matter.

He is familiar with the practice and told WCCB the state says it is not considered waste water and does not need a permit. The employee who contacted WCCB says this, based on what they say they’ve seen mucked out of the upper pond, including leeches and worms, when Fogarty asked, “Would you feel comfortable spending a lot of time in the water there?” The employee replied, “I have never been in that water and I never will be in that water.”

WCCB sent an email to the Whitewater Center, asking for a statement on the mucking and dumping practice and haven’t yet heard back. We did talk to the Catawba Riverkeeper who says requiring a permit in the future might be an option. We’ve also got a call and email into the head of permitting for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.