200,000 Gallons of Cow Manure Spilled into Local Creek

CRAMERTON, NC – Health officials are urging people to take caution after 200,000 gallons of animal waste spilled into Potts Creek in Catawba County.

It’s flowing into the South Fork Catawba River, which is popular with fishers, swimmers, and kayakers.

“If I would have known that, I would have never gone swimming today. That’s disgusting!” says Gastonia resident Amanda Nieminen.

Health officials say a pump malfunction caused the spill earlier this week at the Gladden Dairy in Catawba County.

The cow waste went in to the headwaters of Potts Creek.

It connects to the South Fork Catawba River, which flows through Lincoln and Gaston Counties, eventually meeting Lake Wylie in South Carolina.

“You will notice the smell. 200,000 gallons is an enormous spill,” explains Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins.

Perkins says it’s a health risk for people getting in the water.

“Because this is animal waste, it’s a skin contact concern. There are a lot of things where it’s only an issue if you ingest it. But this is bacteria. So this is something that, a cut or scrape, or event if you don’t have those, it can cause serious illness,” Perkins The city of Lincolnton and the town of Dallas use the South Fork Catawba River for part of their drinking water supply.

Officials say both have stopped taking in water from it and are using alternate water supplies and reserves.

People relaxing along the river want to know, why there weren’t any warnings posted.

“Appalled! Because I had my feet in the river and to think they were swimming in manure.. is kind of.. sickening,” says Gastonia resident Betsy San Millan.

Health officials also say several fish have been found dead in Potts Creek.

State water quality officials will continue to monitor conditions.