There was a valve in Cameron Run Regional Park that wasn’t meant to be used. But two days ago, it was, and the result was a chemical leak into the adjacent Lake Cook that’s had a fatal effect on the park’s wildlife.

“There are two different pump stations and filter systems at Cameron Run, one for the main wave-pool and one for the shallow children’s pool,” explained Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks). “Each system is a little bit different, both designed so they never put chlorinated pool water into the lake.”

But a relic of an earlier, outdated system remained at the park, and an employee mistook it for part of the filtration system.

“Someone who was not as familiar with the system found a valve that would allow them to drain that pool,” Gilbert said. “It’s a valve that hasn’t been used in over 15 years since we put in the new system. They didn’t understand what they were doing, but that pool water went into Lake Cook.”

Gilbert said NOVA Parks staff were on-site yesterday with the city’s fire marshal to examine the impact and figure out what happened.

“We disabled the valve that allowed the pool to be drained,” Gilbert said. “Today, we’re out there with the contractor cleaning up Lake Cook.”

Gilbert said the contamination was a fish kill.

“It’s a small lake, Lake Cook, so it’s an issue of concentration,” Gilbert said. “Right now, we’re focusing on clean up.”

According to Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford:

The Fire Marshals Office (FMO) issued a notice of violation for the illegal discharge of approximately 60,000 gallons of pool water that contained a strong odor of chlorine. The FMO also ordered NOVA Waterpark staff to make necessary repairs to the sanitary drains and other drains prior to refilling the pools. Additionally, a notice of violation was issued for the illegal discharge of a blue substance used as a stain on the pool deck.

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