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The Mount Rogers Health District is advising citizens and visitors to avoid areas of New River following an accidental spill of about 40,000 gallons of manure into Eagle Bottom Creek on Monday.
Eagle Bottom Creek in Grayson County is a tributary of the New River.
Emergency management and law enforcement officials from Carroll, Grayson and Wythe counties and the City of Galax were notified of the event Monday, and worked throughout the afternoon and evening with state officials from the Virginia Departments of Health (Mount Rogers Health District and Office of Drinking Water), Environmental Quality and Game and Inland Fisheries to assess the impact of the spill, according to information from the Mount Rogers Health District.
As a precautionary measure, the Mount Rogers Health District advises people to avoid contact with these surface waters until further notice.
According to health district officials, the most common waterborne illnesses are gastrointestinal and may cause vomiting, diarrhea or nausea. Less commonly, skin, ear and eye infections can result from contact with contaminated water.
During any recreational water activities, people should take precautions to prevent infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms in the water. Avoid swallowing lake or river water and do not swim if you are ill. Also, remember to shower before and after any recreational water activities, health officials stated.
Fries residents asked to conserve water
Citizens in the Town of Fries are asked to conserve water until further notice.
The Fries Water Plant, located downstream from a manure spill that occurred Monday afternoon, has shut-off intake from New River and is using its water reserves, said Assistant County Administrator Mitch Smith, who also serves as Grayson’s Emergency Services Coordinator.
Fries water customers are asked to conserve as much water as possible until further notice, Smith said.
Officials at the plant shut off its intake pipe Monday, immediately following notification of the spill. “The water plant is secured and they have enough reserve [water] on hand; drinking water is safe for all in Fries,” said Smith.
Smith spoke earlier today with a worker at the water plant who “feels confident the town has enough reserve water to be OK.” If needed, the town has an alternative pipe that draws water from New River above Eagle Bottom Creek and could draw water from there, Smith said.
See www.galaxgazette.com and Friday's print edition of the paper for more information.