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The inaugural Anacostia River Splash was postponed Saturday morning after recent water quality samples found E. coli levels well above DC recreational standards. The event will now take place on July 13, the organizers announced.

The River Splash would have been the first time in over 50 years that residents would have been allowed to swim in the Anacostia River. Since 1971, swimming in DC’s rivers and streams has been banned due to water quality concerns. In 2018, the Department of Energy and Environment issued an amendment allowing sanctioned swimming events such as the River Splash in the District’s waters. Although the water quality of the Anacostia River has improved since the ban, it is still generally unsafe to swim in the city’s waters outside of sanctioned events.

The River Splash, organized by Anacostia Riverkeeper, an organization working to restore the river, was intended to give local residents a chance to connect with the river and experience how much safer the water has become. The swim was to take place in the river right by the Kingman Island Dock and next to the Benning Road Bridge. Nearly 200 people signed up to participate.

Following Wednesday’s rains, the Anacostia Riverkeeper decided to take water quality samples on both Wednesday and Friday mornings as a precautionary measure.

“Four samples returned results well above the safety level for initial contact,” said river warden Trey Sherard.

The maximum water quality standard for E. coli in DC is 410. Sherard said Anacostia River sample results were below 100 on Wednesday, but rose to 500 to 600 on Wednesday. Friday.

The organization decided to cancel the event early Saturday morning, about four hours before it was scheduled to begin.

“We did it this way and played it safe,” Sherard said.

Sherard was in the water Thursday, putting ladders in the river in preparation for the event. Although he is not experiencing any symptoms of E. coli infection, he said postponing the event was the right decision. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever and more.

“Just because I didn’t get sick in the water Thursday morning doesn’t mean that someone older can’t get sick, or that someone who is just tired and a little more vulnerable that day can’t get sick,” Sherard said.

This is the third time the event has been postponed. The first event was originally scheduled for last July but was canceled twice, both times due to bad weather. While the postponement is disappointing for Sherard, he wants to give people full confidence in the safety of the event.

“We’re still moving in the right direction, but we have to be 100 percent sure,” Sherard said. “If people have doubts that the event is happening, don’t. The event is happening. We’re not giving up.”

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