Swimming ban issued for Lake Wylie cove after massive raw sewage spill on Catawba River

A swimming ban has been issued for Paw Creek Cove on Lake Wylie in the wake of nearly 850,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilling into the Catawba River on Saturday.

The ban was issued Sunday by Mecklenburg Country.

An estimated 847,000 gallons of untreated sewage was discharged from the Paw Creek Lift Station at 8924 Old Dowd Road, which is operated by Charlotte Water.

The discharge occurred because of a pipe alignment issue during a construction project. The pipe has been repaired and the discharge stopped, Mecklenburg County officials said in a statement Sunday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services staff will monitor water quality in the area until conditions are deemed safe for human contact, the storm water utility said.

The spill was downstream of Mountain Island Lake — the source of Charlotte’s drinking water — and Cam Coley, a spokesman for Charlotte Water, told the Observer on Saturday that he didn’t expect it to affect drinking water.

Charlotte Water also notified downstream water utilities, including the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Coley said.

Charlotte Water pumps 91 million gallons of wastewater each day, and that spills of this magnitude are rare, Coley said.

Nearly 850,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed into the Catawba River from the Paw Creek Lift Station on Old Dowd Road on Saturday, July 17, 2021. The spill prompted Mecklenburg County officials to issue a swimming ban at Paw Creek Cove.

Nearly 850,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed into the Catawba River from the Paw Creek Lift Station on Old Dowd Road on Saturday, July 17, 2021. The spill prompted Mecklenburg County officials to issue a swimming ban at Paw Creek Cove.

Lake Norman sewage spill

In the past month, two sewage spills were reported in a cove on Lake Norman.

On June 30, a private contractor damaged a pipe at a home on Paradise Cove Court in Cornelius, causing 405 gallons of the sewage to discharge into the lake, the Observer previously reported. About two weeks later, on July 13, 200 gallons flowed into the lake after a pipe damaged by a contractor spilled.

The sewage discharge led to two swimming bans being issued, which have since been lifted, and the pipes have been repaired.

It’s unknown if the incidents involved the same contractor or pipe.

Staff writers Ames Alexander and Joe Marusak contributed to this story.