Would you swim in the Willamette River?
PORTLAND -- This week the city of Portland plans to post signs at a proposed swimming area in the Willamette River.
Advocates for the beach said this sign will mark a victory but the city described it as a matter of safety.
“It’s our number one concern,” says Mark Ross of Portland Parks and Recreation, ”We don’t have jurisdiction over the water but we do have it over the property leading up to it.”
The signs will remind swimmers that no lifeguard will be on duty and warn of potential hazards like floating debris and boat traffic.
Meantime, Ross said the proposal for the swimming beach itself, at the Hawthorne Bowl in Waterfront Park, remains under review.
“We are very adamant about how clean the water is. We’ve spent millions of dollars cleaning it up,” he added.
At the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services website you can get details of the water quality in the Willamette. The most recent test for e.Coli showed a score of 4. Any reading under 400 is considered safe.
“People who think there is e. Coli bacteria in the Willamette are misinformed,” said Will Levenson, the organizer of Sunday’s Big Float event.
Hundreds of people will float the river trying to raise awareness about the water. Last year a thousand people took part in the first ever Big Float. This year Levenson hopes to set a world record currently held by a town in Italy.
“We need 550 people to hold hands and float the river for two minutes and we’ll shatter it,” he said. In the process, he also hopes to shatter long-held feelings that the Willamette waters are dirty,“The toilet River, e.Coli River – it’s what people say about this resource but it’s just not true,” he said.
Big Float details link
Check the Willamette River Water Quality link