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Tests show water OK near Tega Cay after possible contamination report

State health officials say Lake Wylie water near Tega Cay is safe and clear following a possible contamination report.

Rick Gaskins, executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, received a report Jan. 28 of possible water contamination after the granddaughter of Lakeshore residents rinsed mud from her face with Lake Wylie water and later broke out in hives. The incident occurred Jan. 25.

“The granddaughter was taken to the emergency room and the doctor told them to report the problem to the health authorities, because they suspected she had been exposed to contaminated water,” Gaskins said.

The city, which operates the water and wastewater system near Lakeshore Drive, tested the water near Nivens Creek and the swim center but found nothing unusual.

“Sample results do not indicate elevated levels of fecal coliform in the water,” said Jim Beasley, DHEC spokesman. “If we receive additional information, we will investigate further.”

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control also found no signs of contaminated water.

“Staff investigated on Jan. 29, along the nature trail off Hunter's Run, down to the lake,” Beasley said. “We did not observe any unusual odors or discharges to the environment during the site visit.”

Tega Cay City Manager Charlie Funderburk wrote in an email on Feb. 2 to Gaskins and Linda Stevenson, organizer with the Tega Cay Water Citizen Advisory Council: “The preliminary results are showing the same levels of ‘contamination’ that we find at Windjammer Park during the middle of the summer when we are testing it every other week. The lake water in that cove is no more contaminated than any other cove on the lake.”

Fecal coliform levels are present naturally and can test higher following heavy rains as pet waste or other material washes into a water body. Funderburk said fecal coliform levels were not beyond what could occur naturally.

“The test results are good news,” Gaskins said, “but it doesn’t mean there was not a problem a week ago.”

There were no reported sewage spills or no-swim advisories near Tega Cay around the time of the incident.