Sewage spill reduces time for recreation on the Catawba River

Sewage spill reduces time for recreation on the Catawba River
(Source: pixabay)

BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - Local drinking water is not threatened considering nearly 15.5 million gallons of wastewater that got into Long Creek.

The creek is a tributary of the Catawba River. Concerns came after heavy rain and a fallen tree caused a pipe to burst this week. Warnings, for the most part, are being taken seriously.

A No Swimming Advisory is in effect for parts of the Catawba River, but a few recreational fishermen could still be found on the banks on Wednesday. The day's small haul of just a few fish at Belmont's Kevin Loftin Park - which was supposed to be dinner - turned into an exercise of catch and release for Mary Ryan's family.

"I'm fixing to go home," she said. "Turn loose those two fish I caught."

The toxic sewage spill floating downstream has turned parts of the waterway into a danger zone.

Riverkeeper Sam Perkins urges residents to continue to exercise caution.

"Don't touch the water, because that water has very high levels of bacteria right now - and whether it's a cut or scrape - getting that bacteria into your system could be very bad in causing an infection," he said.

It may mean a temporary hardship for nearby bait shops. But James Burris, who was stocking up on minnows and crickets on Wednesday, had decided to find another fishing hole. He's looking for one that is safer.

"I mean, sewage in the river," Burris said, "that's not good."

Thousands in Belmont were notified via social media, but reeling it in and leaving empty handed is how members of the Ryan family ended the day, saying they're better safe than sick.

"I'm good. I'm good," Mary Burris said.

County officials tell WBTV they found more than 100 dead fish after the pipe burst. The advisory should be lifted next week.

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