N.C. House seeks to increase regulations of Whitewater Center after death

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The N.C. House gave initial approval on Tuesday to increase regulations on facilities such as the U.S. National Whitewater Center following the death of an Ohio teenager who visited the facility earlier this month.

House Bill 1074 would require the center to “test for physical, biological, or chemical substances in the water.” The center would also be regulated by the Commission for Public Health, which enforces state standards for water quality and testing, and require permits from the state Department of Health and Human Services for continued operation, according to the bill. These regulations are similar to the current state standards for public swimming pools.

The bill comes after the death of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz, an Ohio resident who was visiting the Whitewater Center on a church trip. The center was temporarily shut down on June 24 after test results found the presence of Naegleria fowleri — a brain-eating amoeba — in the whitewater system.

A report from the Charlotte Observer found that the Whitewater Center was the only one of three similar parks in the nation that is not regulated to prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses.

The Whitewater Center utilizes a state-of-the-art filtration system and ultraviolet radiation treatment system, and conducts weekly tests with a third-party laboratory. However, the center does not specifically test for the presence of amoeba such as N. fowleri.

Moving forward, the center has pledged to drain and clean all surfaces in the whitewater channels, and test the City of Charlotte water sources for any presence of N. fowleri prior to refilling the center’s systems.

A final vote on House Bill 1074 will be held on Wednesday.

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