Forget your fears of growing a third arm on contact with the Willamette River. According to Will Levenson, one of the organizers of The Big Float on July 29, the river is “scientifically 100 percent safe for people swimming in it.”It's so safe, Levenson says, that he's petitioned the city of Portland Parks and Recreation to create a swimming beach at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
He says the beach will take downtown Portland’s livability “to the next level,” and he hopes to create it by removing rocks that currently cover the sand during an “Unrock the Bowl” event on August 25.
Levenson also wants the city to place buoys in the water and put up signs about the dangers of swimming near barges. “It’s a public safety issue,” he says.
For now, though, Levenson sees no reason why people shouldn’t (cautiously) take a dip in the river: “Either you’re a complete conspiracy theorist to think that the Bureau of Development Services and the DEQ are trying to get people to swim in polluted water, or it’s actually safe.”(Luckily for all the "conspiracy theorists," they can decide for themselves whether or not the river is clean enough by checking out the new water quality web page created by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services).