Portland mayor jumps into Willamette River at new swimming beach

Mayor Wheeler makes a splash at Poet's Beach

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A brand new beach is open along Portland's South Waterfront.

It's another place to take a dip in the Willamette River and cool off. On Thursday, Mayor Ted Wheeler did his part to encourage people to give it a try.

Wheeler and others had no hesitation as they dove head first into the Willamette to celebrate the opening of Poet's Beach.

One of the goals of the pilot project is to try and reconnect people with the river.

Viewers have consistently voiced concerns over the water's cleanliness. Those involved in the project say there’s no need to worry.

“According to the DEQ, EPA, Oregon Health Authority, City of Portland, environmental watchdog groups, the Willamette is safe for swimming,” said Willie Levenson, Ringleader for the Human Access Project.

“We made the investment in the big pipe. That's definitely paid off in terms of the water quality and of course we're now making investments in the superfund site on the lower Willamette. This is just the beginning,” said Wheeler.

Back in May, a line in the city budget showed it would cost about $158,000 in taxpayer money to build the beach. A representative with the mayor's office told us that money isn't much in comparison to the whole budget.

Poet's Beach will be open through the summer until Sept. 4.

Along with a designated swimming area, there are lifeguards and life jackets to help keep people safe while they splash around.

The new beach is also the launch site for the Big Float this weekend.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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