Health Dept. To Issue River Water Advisories Starting May15

Notices Urge Limiting Water Contact on River Outings When Sewers Overflow; Available Via Hotline, Online, Twitter and Mobile Phone Text Alerts

The Allegheny County Health Department will issue river water advisories for the 2012 river recreation season beginning Tuesday, May 15, and continuing through September 30.    

The advisories indicate whether water quality in rivers and streams is normal or a combined sewer overflow (CSO) alert has been issued.  Alerts are issued when significant rainfall causes sewers carrying a combination of sewage and storm water to overflow and contaminate rivers and streams.

A CSO alert doesn’t prohibit river recreational activity, but cautions people to minimize water contact on their outings.  Those with weakened immune systems and open cuts or sores are more vulnerable to infection from exposure to contaminated water.

Boaters and others who enjoy the rivers for recreation and pleasure can get updates by calling the advisory hotline 412-687-ACHD (2243), visiting World Wide Web Icon Health Department website, following the Health Department Twitter or subscribing to a mobile phone text alert system.  To register for text alerts, visit the World Wide Web Icon Health Department CSO Text Alerts.      

In addition, when an alert is in effect marinas, docks and other sites along the rivers fly an orange-colored flag with black CSO lettering, which stands for combined sewer overflow.  Thirty sites are participating in the flag program this year – 15 on the Allegheny, seven on the Monongahela, six on the Ohio and two on the Youghiogheny.  (See list below.)

CSO Flag Sites

Allegheny River:  Allegheny Marina; Brilliant Marina; Fox Chapel Marina; Millvale Marina; Oakmont Water Plant; Outboard Haven Marina; Pittsburgh River Rescue; Pittsburgh Water Plant; Tarentum Water Plant; Three Rivers Rowing Association; Upper Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Plant; Washington’s Landing; and Locks & Dams #2, #3 and #4.

Monongahela River:  Carousel Marina; Clairton Sewage Plant; McKeesport Sewage Plant; Mon Valley Speedboat Club; Sandcastle; Locks & Dams #2 and #3.

Ohio River:  Dashields Lock & Dam; Emsworth Lock & Dam; Groveton Boat Club; Midway Marina; River Quest; West View Water Plant.

Youghiogheny River: McKees Point Marina; Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County – McKeesport Water Plant.

The frequency and duration of the alerts, which have been issued by the Health Department during every recreational boating season since 1995, vary depending on the amount of rainfall. 

 Sixteen alerts lasting an average of four days each were issued last summer, which had a moderate to heavy amount of rainfall.  By contrast, six alerts lasting an average of 21 days each occurred during the wet summer of 2004 and 11 alerts lasting an average of three days each occurred during the dry summer of 1999.

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