The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Charlottesville investigated a large amount of killed fish in Meadowcreek Gardens Park last Thursday. In the following days, City and University officials determined the fish kill was caused by a contaminated construction pit at the former University Hall site. University Hall formerly housed the University’s basketball programs and was demolished in May as part of the University’s athletics renovation plan.
Contaminated water from the construction site entered a stormwater system drain which discharges into Meadow Creek in the vicinity of the John Paul Jones Arena. According to University spokesperson Wes Hester, City and University officials determined Friday the storm system drain discharging into the creek by the Emmet Street and Massie Road intersection by John Paul Jones arena was the source of the water pollution.
Rainwater mixed with concrete dust at the construction site and was pumped out of the site into drain lines last Tuesday, according to City officials. The high alkaline levels caused by concrete debris killed hundreds of fish in Meadowcreek Gardens. The contamination did not pollute the City’s drinking water system, which flows through separate reservoirs.
In a statement released Friday, City officials advised that humans and pets avoid contact with the water at Meadowcreek Gardens Park until further investigation. City officials also stated high levels of rainwater already had helped flush out the contamination and subsequent testing would ensue in the following days.
City officials released a statement Monday evening stating water quality had returned to normal levels as of Monday morning. According to the statement, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality performed water monitoring last Thursday and Friday in several different locations and determined normal pH and conductivity levels in Meadowcreek Gardens Park. The testing showed high pH and conductivity levels near the University Hall construction site, but officials lifted the water safety precaution for Meadowcreek Gardens Park.
In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Hester said construction crews will no longer pump water out of the pit into the storm drain.