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Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Would You Need to Hear Before You Decided to Dive Into the Willamette River?

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 1:44 PM

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Perhaps you remember reading something about a certain riverine event Sunday, July 31, that the good ol' Mercury has decided to help sponsor: It's called the Big Float—and it basically consists of several hundred people crawling onto their inner tubes, inflatable chaise lounges, giant alligator balloons, etc., and then spending an hour floating lazily down the Willamette River twixt the Hawthorne and Marquam bridges. Their handsome reward? Bands! And food-cart food!

The point of all this is to remind everyone that getting the Willamette River on your skin, when you inevitably fall in or get splashed by some asshole youryou're "friends" with, (probably) won't kill you. As such, Willamette Riverkeeper also is sponsoring the float.

Despite public perception (which we are trying to change), the Willamette River is fine for swimming, except in rare instances when Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) conditions are present. Otherwise, DEQ states “the Willamette River is safe for swimming and other recreational uses.

Okay. Fine. But just how "safe" is it? And would you still really want to get wet with it? Also how far from "not safe" is the mighty, and still gray, Willamette?

At risk of starting another one of these discussions, I want to hear from Blogtown: What science-type assurances would you need to have before you felt okay about jumping in the river and, y'know, taking in a gulp or two. Post 'em here—and any rebuttals if you've got 'em—and look for a story in a couple of weeks that will either (hopefully) put your swim-ready mind at ease or make you put on your pants so fast you forget to button them and creep everyone out for the rest of the day.

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