Whitewater Center rapids won't open Saturday; permits not obtained

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County confirmed again on Friday that the U.S. National Whitewater Center's rapids will not be open Saturday because it has not obtained the proper permits to resume whitewater activities.

In October, Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously passed new rules governing recreational whitewater systems.

One of the rules requires the USNWC to apply for an operation permit annually.

Sources told Channel 9 the USNWC is scheduled to be inspected Wednesday morning. The county sent additional questions to the Whitewater Center on Friday regarding filters and stabilizers. The county also has yet to review the Whitewater Center’s wastewater disposal process, according to sources.

"No recreational whitewater system shall be operated without having been issued a valid operating permit by the Mecklenburg County Health Department," according to the county's rules on whitewater systems.

County leaders said the rules went into effect Jan. 1. but Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno broke the news that the USNWC didn't apply for a permit until Feb. 23.

The Whitewater Center is scheduled to resume water activities this Saturday, but county leaders said that will not happen until the center obtains proper permits.

The county is currently reviewing the USNWC's application. The county also still has to conduct an inspection of the facility before boaters can enter the water.

"We have no intention to hold them up, but at the same time, we are not pressured to meet that Saturday deadline," Lisa Corbitt, program manager for Mecklenburg County, said. "They have told me when they would like to open, and I have communicated back (that) we are going to walk through this process and make sure everything is correct."

County officials refused to comment on whether the USNWC will be able to host rafters this Saturday or next weekend for the annual Green River Revival.

Corbitt said the process will likely be less cumbersome in the future. This is the first time the USNWC has had to apply for this permit.

"We want to be accurate and responsive," Corbitt said. "We have been in communication with the Whitewater Center, and they have answered some of our questions. We are going back and forth to make sure we have an understanding. There is not a deadline or a time-frame being this is the first time we have permitted the facility. The most important thing is to make sure we're accurate and we have all the information we need."

County officials said that the Whitewater Center will still be able to open, but activities can't happen until the necessary permits are obtained.

County commissioners passed these rules in October after an Ohio teenager died from a brain-eating amoeba contracted from the water at the USNWC.

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