Across the nation more and more paddlers are taking to our countries rivers, lakes, creeks and streams looking for everything from excitement, to relaxation, fishing to picture taking, a float to a workout on the water. We talk about PFDs and hypothermia to keep boaters safe. We offer classes in first aid and wilderness training to make sure someone out there in your group knows what to do if an injury happens.
On a recent trip down the Trinity River here in Dallas,TX the Dallas Down River Club put in at the Standing Wave. While the spot is not officially open it is being used. There were two certified ACA instructors down there practicing throwing their safety line into the river. I applaud that endeavor. However, when asked about advising their students about the QUALITY of the water at a bacterial level, and other contaminates in the water that effect paddlers health, one responded with “Well you’re going to die sometime.”
This section of the Trinity River is on the 303d list. It has elevated levels of e.coli much of the time and when do many of the play boaters want to come out and use the Wave park? Right after a rain when the water is up and so is the bacterial levels.
Do you really want to listen to an instructor willing to forgo this type of information? The ACA is not alone in ignoring this threat to paddlers health. The National Safe Boating Council is holding a convention in San Antonio Texas this spring. Not one presentation about water quality in our nations water ways.
The EPA and CDC focuses on sea water swimming areas, and the beaches of the great lakes in setting up warning systems about water quality. Water monitoring data is slow in coming and in many cases done only on a sporadic basis to what end? Protect industry that is polluting the rivers?
TMDL = Total Maximum Daily Load…. These are in place for e.coli, sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, etc.. The data that determines these take years to amass and even more to put into prospective and yet even more to remediate.
Ask you local health organization about the water quality of the river you play on, fish on, work out on. Don’t end up sick or dead because a simple cut while out playing ended up being really serious. Organize cleanups, get active in your local TMDL process. Hold the feet of the ACA, CDC, EPA to the fire and get the word out there that as water users we have a responsibility to protect our nations water supply.