Reality Check: Officials say water supply at World Equestrian Games is safe

    Food vendor Jeremiah Jackson said two men with the water supply tank company told him he needed to dump his potable, or drinking, water because of safety concerns. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    World Equestrian Games food vendor Jeremiah Jackson said business has been anything but good. He said low spectator turnout has translated into low sales. Other vendors News 13 spoke with Wednesday confirmed the same.

    However, Jackson was more concerned about his water supply. He and another vendor contacted News 13 over concerns that the water supply for their food trucks could be contaminated. Jackson said, last night, two men with the water supply tank company told him he needed to dump his potable, or drinking, water because of safety concerns.

    "He says it's not potable water. We haven't been filling you with potable water," Jackson said.

    Karen Powell, director for the Rutherford, Polk, McDowell Health District, said the department had received a complaint that the water truck was also servicing the portable toilets on the Tryon Equestrian Center grounds.

    The truck had two tanks, one to service toilets and another to provide potable safe water to food vendors to fill their water tanks. Powell said the health department found no issues with the water being supplied, although precautions were taken after the complaint was filed.

    Jackson said the company that contracted with the food vendors sent out information Wednesday.

    "They sent out a blast message to all the vendors today, saying they had gone through and sanitized and flushed all of the tanks to clean everything out," he said.

    But Jackson said he looked in his water tank after the alleged cleanings and didn't find the water looked any different. He said his concern is for public safety.

    "Small business owners, we're on the front lines of this. If people get sick, if there's an outbreak, people who are going to get sued are us," Jackson said.

    Levy, which is the company hired to oversee food vending operations, re-iterated the health department determined there were no risks and water being delivered is safe. However, the company has replaced the double-tanked truck with a truck that only delivers water to vendors and doesn't service the toilets.

    Rob Lowry, who is also running a food truck, said he thinks he's been treated just fine and has no issues with the water. His truck Out of the Blue was doing brisk business Wednesday.

    "We don't cook with the water, so it's not really been an issue for us," Lowry said.

    Tryon Equestrian Center COO Sharon Decker said vendors should feel confident the water is fine.

    "We asked Levy to bring in a new vendor (a new truck) that has a separate truck for potable water to alleviate that concern," she said.

    Vendor Nick Botta, who is running a pizza food truck, said on a scale of one to 10, his business at the games has been about a .5. He said he's lost money on his investment in buying a spot at the World Equestrian Games. He said slow business is why some vendors left early.

    "Monday was terrible," he said. "No one was here."

    Decker did not provide a ticket sales report Wednesday but last week told News 13 about 250,000 tickets were sold, which would be half the original forecast of 500,000 spectators for the World Equestrian Games.

    Many of the equestrian events have had rows of empty seats in stadiums, but, Decker said, attendance was looking stronger Wednesday. She said people who bought tickets specifically for the freestyle dressage event that was canceled would be able to get refunds. But, she added, a number of those ticket holders were using the tickets to see other events. Dressage is by far one of the most popular and well-attended events at the World Equestrian Games.

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