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The Guardian reports:

  • Thunderstorm eight miles upstream caused lethal flooding of canyon
  • Fire chief: ‘They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them’

An Arizona sheriff’s office said on Sunday at least nine people had died in flash flooding and others were missing after a wall of water swept through a popular swimming hole inside Tonto National Forest.

Gila County sheriff J Adam Shepherd said crews were still searching the missing people. Earlier, Water Wheel fire and medical district fire chief Ron Sattelmaier fire chief said at least four people were dead and about a dozen more missing.

Sattelmaier said more than a hundred people were in the Cold Springs swimming hole on Saturday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been burned over by a recent wildfire.

“If it’s an intense burn, it creates a glaze on the surface that just repels water,” said Darren McCollum, a meteorologist.

A woman who was hiking to the swimming hole said she saw people clinging to trees after the water rushed down a normally calm creek near the trail. More…

 

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Indy Star reports: Would you use a beach on the White River?

Would you set up an umbrella and sun yourself on a sandy area on the urban waterway that flows through Indianapolis? The one plagued for years with pollution issues?

Yes, that’s a serious question — because it seriously could happen.

“It would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t develop the banks of the White River.” said Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, the city’s tourism agency. “Why not think big? Why not think progressively? If we don’t think big, we’ll get passed by.”

So Visit Indy is thinking big  and long term. The prospect of a beach along the banks of the White River Downtown came out of its first tourism master plan, launched in 2015 with a goal of attracting 5 million more visitors to Indianapolis by 2025. In the past 18 months, Visit Indy researched the needs and wants of state residents, business owners, community leaders and elected officials and identified areas to target to reach that goal.

“Our research shows people are attracted to water,” Gahl said. “(The White River) is an underutilized attractant in the city. People would gravitate to it.” More…

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WBUR reports: When you think of the Charles River, a lot of things come to mind. But probably not, say, the backstroke. However, that changed Saturday morning. It has been unthinkable for decades but members of the general public actually swam in the Charles near the Hatch Shell in Boston. Recreational swimming in the river has not been legal since the 1950s, when it was banned because the Charles was so polluted.

A lot of work and about $500 million have been spent on cleaning up that water. Much of it was to separate sewage from storm water and to separate those pipes so that the sewage goes into the island and we don’t have raw sewage going into the River.

Wild Swimming returns to the Charles River Boston

City Lab reports: To be safe for swimming, water must have less than 126 colony forming units of E. Coli per 100 milliliters of water. The standards for safe boating are five times higher. When that nearly-failing D grade was first published in 1995, the part of the river that flows through Boston and Cambridge met boating standards 39 percent of the time and swimming standards an abysmal 19 percent of the time. In 2011, the river was rated safe for boating 82 percent of all days and swimming 54 percent of the time. The overall EPA grade for the last 10 miles of the river is calculated from a composite of daily forecasts and monthly readings. It has hovered for the last few years around B or B+, which many say is the best they can hope for for such an urban river. 

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From the Hudson Reporter:

Dreaming of swimming in the Hudson River?
Local sewerage authority must start action plan for cleaner waterways

Don’t look now, but the Hudson River is on the mend. Marine biologists have reported resurgent oyster populations on the piers of western Manhattan, and humpback whales are returning to New York Bay in droves. No longer is the Hudson a mere receptacle for industrial waste and double-crossed mafiosi.

Unfortunately for the residents of Hudson County, one of the final obstacles preventing the river from being fully safe for swimming and fishing lies directly beneath their feet. Along with several waterfront communities in Bergen and Passaic counties, every city in Hudson County has a combined sewage and storm-water system that overflows during heavy rain events, pouring raw sewage into the Hudson River.

At the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, for example, half of the 18 water samples taken since May 2014 show bacteria levels deemed unsafe for swimming, most coming after rainfall in the four prior days, according to data from clean water watchdog Riverkeeper.

Such combined sewer overflows or CSOs are not just unsafe—they are illegal under the Clean Water Act of 1972. Rather than waiting for the EPA or federal courts to order a corrective plan, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued new permits that require the entities responsible for New Jersey’s 217 combined sewer outfalls to develop long-term plans to reduce the frequency of polluting events.

Positive sign?

Jon Miller, the President of the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse, is optimistic that the new sewer permits could mean an end to his organization’s monitoring of water quality in the Hudson River someday soon.

“We have partnered with water testing professionals at Riverkeeper, Hackensack Riverkeeper and Resilience adventures among others, to make sure we run a program that is safe for all involved by monitoring outflows and water quality,” said Miller in a statement. “Hopefully in the future this type of monitoring will no longer be necessary as the river becomes even cleaner through the efforts of so many local state and federal organizations.”

However, Fredric Pocci said he doubts New Jersey’s efforts to combat CSOs will be enough to make the Hudson River consistently swimmable on their own. Before coming to the NHSA, Pocci was the chief sewer engineer for New York City, which has 650 combined sewer outfalls in Manhattan alone.

“Whatever we do is a drop in the bucket, literally,” said Pocci. “From what I see right now coming out of the city of New York, I don’t think that they’re planning on attacking [CSOs] the way the state of New Jersey is planning on attacking it, and without them on board with the same kind of game plan, it’s not going to have a positive effect.”

Pocci still thinks Hudson County’s combined sewers are a task worth tackling. “Aside from the fact that this is going to be a very expensive proposition for everyone,” he said, “as a civil engineer, this is very exciting.” More…

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Popular among families for its life-guarded swim area, the Lower falls at Ithaca’s Robert Treman State Park

The Weather Channel reports: As the weather starts to warm up, we start to think about the best ways to cool off. And what better way to refresh, rejuvenate and relax in warmer temps than a dip in a pool of clear, tranquil water?

From old-fashioned swimming holes (complete with rope swing) and natural watersides to hidden waterfall oases, hot springs and picturesque lakes, we round up the best swimming spots in every state for the ultimate soak across America. Some are stunning natural wonders, some are jewels of the state park system and others are man-made attractions, but all these spots conjure images of sun-kissed days and family-friendly fun. More…

Discover the history of wild swimming in the USA

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The Horse and Jockey Dive - San Angelo

The Horse and Jockey!

This is a rare glimpse from America of the Horse and Jockey diving formation is a real blast from the past.

Once common in pools all over England, diving has fallen by the wayside as changing attitudes and our risk averse culture has reshaped the swimming experience. In its day (not so long ago), diving inspired young swimmers whilst entertaining the nervous.

When the divers reached the water, the jockey would lie back, diving feet first.

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I was watching the film Tree of Life the other night and was looking at some of the swimming locations used in the film, when I came across this photo from the Daily Mail.

For those who aren’t diving, this is a natural spring fed pool that can be and is enjoyed by everyone. But for divers the spring angles down into one of the largest underwater caves in the state of Texas, reaching a depth of a massive forty meters. Sadly some have lost their lives exploring in its depths but for wild swimmers this is a magical place.

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