ORSANCO is asked frequently if it is safe to swim in the Ohio River, and the answer to that question must be answered, “Yes and no.” Every activity that humans engage in involves some risk, and recreating in or on the Ohio River is no different. Obvious risks to swimming in the Ohio River include river currents, floating or submerged debris, and commercial and recreational traffic.
In addition, there may be possible human health risk due to water quality conditions. ORSANCO manages numerous programs which routinely monitor the water quality of the Ohio River. Two of these routine programs that help to monitor possible human health risk due to water quality conditions include ORSANCO’s Contact Recreation Bacteria and Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) programs.
Contact Recreation Bacteria Program:
Bacteria are present in the Ohio River throughout the year. Bacteria conditions in the Ohio River can change rapidly, particularly as a result of rain which flushes bacteria into the Ohio River from such sources as overland runoff and combined sewers. Certain bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illnesses if ingested during recreational activities. ORSANCO conducts monitoring for bacteria every week from April through October. Click here to learn more about the Contract Recreation Bacteria program.
Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) Program:
Algae are present in the Ohio River throughout the year. During optimal conditions, some algae may rapidly proliferate, causing a “bloom”. Certain algae can produce toxins (cyanotoxins) which can be harmful if ingested during recreational activities. Algae blooms are most common in the summer, although they may occur at any time of the year. ORSANCO operates a HAB monitoring system on the Ohio River during the primary HAB season. Click here to learn more about the Harmful Algae Bloom program.
Other Water Quality Programs:
Are you interested in ORSANCO’s other water quality monitoring programs? Click here to learn more about all of ORSANCO’s water quality monitoring programs.
Recreation on the Ohio River:
ORSANCO has a list of marinas along the Ohio River as a guide. Contact information and the status of marinas often change. It is advised to call or use the links provided for the most updated information. Click here to view a list of marinas along the Ohio River.
Looking for additional information? Contact us or call 513-231-7719.