Watauga County officials continue to urge people to avoid recreational activities in the Watauga River, in the vicinity of Foscoe, due to a petroleum substance that appears to be seeping between Church Road and Riverside Farm Road, according to an update Monday evening from the Appalachian District Health Department.
The advisory still applies only to that section of the river, as efforts continue to determine the extent of contamination and collect water samples for testing. Efforts over the weekend have been lead by Watauga County Emergency Management while working with the Watauga Riverkeeper, state partners and the Environmental Protection Agency.
To date, work has continued to determine if any hazards exist to humans or livestock, determine the source and contain the substance. Local officials expect additional laboratory results by Thursday, Aug. 3. These results will provide important information about next steps.
Environmental and health officials continue to recommend the following:
• Avoid swimming, wading or fishing in this section of the Watauga River area until further notice.
• Avoid skin contact with water, soil and sediment in or near the river.
• If skin comes in contact with contaminated sediment or water, thoroughly wash the
affected area with soap and water.
Officials with the NC Department of Environmental Quality in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency, NC Department of Health and Human Services, and Appalachian District Health Department will continue to conduct water quality sampling and planning for control and remediation of the problem. Officials are contacting homeowners with private drinking water wells in the specified area to conduct additional well water testing.
Additional guidance will be provided as warranted as recommendations and guidance is received. Questions or concerns should be phoned into Appalachian District Health Department at 828-264-4995 ext. 1114. Please leave your name and phone number for a return call. Additional updates will be issued as needed by Thursday, August 3.