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Keep safety in mind when cooling off in the Willamette River

There are almost a dozen swimming spots for many different abilities along the river, accessible by bike, walking or public transportation.

PORTLAND, Ore — As temperatures heat up this weekend, the local nonprofit Human Access Project is pushing the Willamette River as the perfect place to cool off. 

"When it’s hot out, we want to cool off , the Willamette River is a lovely 73 degrees, it’s going to be the perfect temperature to  make this heat more manageable," said Willie Levenson, ringleader at the nonprofit.

The DEQ and the city of Portland test the water in the river each week and results are posted online. The latest show the E.coli count at 22, well below the unsafe level of 406.

There are almost a dozen swimming spots scattered along the river, accessible by bike, walking or public transportation. One of those is the Kevin Duckworth dock, off the Eastbank Esplanade. 

"This is definitely an advanced place to swim," said Levenson. "It is 25 feet deep here so there’s no opportunity to touch the bottom." The group added eight swim ladders at the dock last year and have plan to add bike racks in a few weeks.

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Other places include the Ledge, where people can jump off of a rock. For swimmers who are not quite ready to jump off the Ledge, Levenson recommends Poet's Beach. He says it's great for beginner swimmers because they can gradually get into the water. 

“If you don’t feel comfortable swimming, you really should not get in past your waist," said Levenson.

His other safety reminders include swimming with a friend ,which is not a problem for the Willamette River Huggers. A group that swims every Wednesday and Friday. Their favorite spot is off the dock at station 21, which along with the other sites will be a popular place to beat the heat  this weekend. 

"So let’s keep our beautiful river in mind as a cooling option for people in Portland who like to swim," said Levenson.

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