|Residents warned not to fish, swim at Waid Park|
Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Signs were still in place at Waid Park Tuesday morning, warning residents that there may be harmful bacteria levels in the Pigg River as the result of a spill of 30,000-gallons of cow manure into a tributary of the river Friday.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Signs are still posted along the Pigg River at Waid Park to advise residents to avoid recreational use of the waters -- swimming, fishing, wading or otherwise coming into contact with the water -- until further notice.
On April 3, an accidental spill of approximately 30,000 gallons of cow manure wastewater occurred from a holding lagoon near the intersection of Calico Rock Road and Six Mile Post Road, west of Rocky Mount, according to Robert Parker with the Virginia Department of Health.
Some of the spill entered a small, unnamed tributary of the Pigg River, upstream from the Waid Park Recreation area, off Six Mile Post Road.
"While there is no indication that this spill poses any increased risk to drinking water, it's important to note that any surface waters may contain organisms that cause disease" said Dr. Margaret O'Dell, acting director of the West Piedmont Health District. "Anytime you go swimming, boating, fishing or wading, you should avoid drinking or swallowing any water from an unknown or unapproved source, and afterward thoroughly wash any area exposed to these waters."
Although there is no evidence of any increased risk from catching and eating fish from these waters -- as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and cooked -- the posted advisory recommends that citizens temporarily avoid fishing in these waters.
While any potential risk from this spill would be from coming into contact with or swallowing the water, not from eating properly prepared fish, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) canceled Heritage Day on Saturday.
The annual stocking of trout in the Pigg River was postponed until a later date when there is no fear of contaminates in the water, according to Sgt. Karl Martin.
"Heritage Day is the traditional opening day of trout season on the first Saturday of April," Martin said. "However, with concern about possible pollutants and oxygen depletion in the water, we decided to cancel Heritage Day and stock the trout at a later date."
Jeff Hurst with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said several hundred small minnows and suckers have been killed in the tributary, but there is no indication that the Pigg River has been impacted.
"The fish kills are isolated to the small tributary," Hurst said. "We are currently monitoring the oxygen levels and conductivity levels in the river."
"The warning signs, which are a precautionary measure, will be removed when the samples are back to historic levels," he added.
Monday's rain helped to dilute the spill although it likely carried some of the waste downstream, Hurst said.
The manure spill was reportedly caused by a valve in the lagoon pipe being accidentally left open, Hurst said. The incident is still under investigation.
For more information, contact the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality at 540-562-6700 or VDH's West Piedmont Health District at 276-638-2311 or www.vdh.virginia.gov.