Swimming beach on the WIllamette downtown?
PORTLAND - Saying other cities with rivers have them, a Portland man is proposing a swimming beach on Portland’s waterfront.
“The Willamette water is clean to swim from a human health perspective,” said beach advocate Will Levenson.
He has filed a petition with the Portland Parks Department to establish a beach at the Hawthorne Bowl. It borders the site of the Waterfront Blues Festival and is next to the Riverplace Hotel.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s a beach here now,” said Levenson as he and two friends took to the water on Thursday.
He’s asking the city to put up signs and add buoys in the water. He’s also organizing an “Unrock the Bowl” event for August to move rocks off the shoreline and uncover sand underneath. His plan seems to carry water with the city.
“The numbers we’ve had the past 10 years at the Morrison Bridge have been fair and most recently the quality has been rated as excellent,” remarked Rick Bastasch with Portland’s Office of Healthy Working Rivers. “It’s safe for swimming and for water sports,” he added.
The recently completed Big Pipe project is behind the change in water quality. It’s designed to decrease sewage overflow during heavy rains by more than 90 per cent.
“If we didn’t have a sewage overflow problem during the wettest March of all time this year, it’s very unlikely we’ll see one in the summer,” said Levenson.
He’s planning another Big Float event on July 29th to get more Portlanders in the Willamette water.
Last year’s event drew more than 1,000 people who floated across the river on inner tubes. Levenson says proceeds from this year’s event will go to help create the beach.
The city is considering the petition and has indicated support for the plan.
“We’re trying to get Portlanders to look at the information from the DEQ and Oregon health Authority. "We have a system that has dealt with problems and left us with a great resource,” concluded the man who watches water quality for the city.