Harmful algae bloom postpones swim event on Ohio River

Harmful algae bloom postpones swim event on Ohio River
A few days ago, health and environmental officials who monitor the Ohio River warned swimmers and boaters about harmful blue-green algae spotted from Louisville to Cincinnati. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The only open-water swim event to cross the Ohio River and back has been postponed due to a harmful algae bloom.

Officials with the Bill Keating Jr./Great Ohio River Swim consulted with several local and state environmental agencies, including the Ohio EPA, before announcing the race would be rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 13.

"We appreciate your patience as we wait for the river to reach acceptable standards for the Great Ohio River Swim,” Great Ohio River Swim Chair Caroline Keating said. “Safety is our highest priority.”

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The Kentucky Division of Water issued a recreational advisory Sept. 26. The advisory recommends against direct contact with river waters near Downtown Cincinnati, including swimming, wading, paddling, diving, or water skiing.

“This type of algae is always present in the river water,” Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram explained in a statement. “But, if the weather conditions are right, the algae can spread rapidly, causing a bloom.”

Event officials noted this is the second consecutive year of problematic water conditions and that they will consider an earlier date for next year’s swim.

The event began in 2007. Traditionally it begins at the Serpentine Wall. Participants swim to the Kentucky banks, then back again.

Initially called the ‘Great Ohio River Swim,’ officials added Bill Keating Jr.’s name after the long-time participant passed away in March 2017 from brain cancer.

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