Wednesday, October 9, 2013

FW Weekly and the Dallas Observer

Both wrote articles this week concerning Fort Worth's portion of the Trinity River. 

The Dallas Observer made us laugh, Hey Fort Worth, your bridge sucks.

The Fort Worth Weekly made us sick.  Well, they didn't, it was really the TRVA that did.  The Weekly just tells you about it.  Thank goodness someone does. 

Kudos to the Weekly for keeping people in the loop.  Kudos to San Antonio for keeping their people safe. Maybe we can copy them on that too.  Kudos to people like Mary Kelleher and Libby Willis for holding elected and appointed "officials" accountable. 

Don't forget the TRVA motto - "Clean swimming, Dirty Living"...yes, we laughed too.

Did the Trinity River Vision Authority cancel tubing events this year and last year because of high levels of dangerous bacteria in the river? It depends on your definition of “because.”

However, the water district only tests water quality in the river once a month — a time period during which pollution levels can vary significantly. So when TRVA spokesman Matt Oliver said the district didn’t cancel events this year and in 2012 due to high levels of bacteria, that was accurate — because the agency didn’t know whether the water that day was dangerously polluted or not. Statistics suggest there was a good chance it was.

The city of San Antonio, by contrast, does weekly testing of its river water and publicizes the results so that people know the pollution levels.

We had a big rain the day before and the day of, and the river was moving too swiftly” for public safety, Oliver said. The fast-moving water washed litter and debris into the river, causing the cancellation, he said.

The other cancellation occurred last July 11. A storm’s high winds and hail damaged the pavilion’s sound system, Oliver said.

Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Associations president Libby Willis and other residents first expressed concerns about water quality three years ago when the TRVA proposed to divert floodwaters to a retention pond in the Riverside neighborhood. Willis’s group consulted with Joon Lee, a University of North Texas Health and Science professor who specializes in public water supplies.

However, no testing for E. coli was performed on either of those dates. So it’s possible that E. coli levels were high enough to warrant canceling the events.

“They’re doing it backward it seems,” she said. “It amazes me when I see all those people in the tubes. It’s a nasty river.”

Willis doesn’t blame the TRVA for the E. coli levels, she said. But she does expect the agency to protect residents who are invited to go tubing.

The San Antonio River is considered dirtier than the Trinity — swimming and water-contact recreation is forbidden near the metropolitan area. But boating is allowed — and testing is frequent.

The TRVA doesn’t do as much testing or publicizing of results, but it does provide a 500-word release that tubers must sign, which includes absolving the agency of responsibility for “any and all claims for bodily injury, death, sickness, disease” and other damages.

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