River Water Quality Could Impact Festival Raft Race

By Stephanie Parkinson

June 24, 2013 Updated Jun 24, 2013 at 6:14 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - In a matter of weeks the Three Rivers Festival will kick off. But right now the City of Fort Wayne is warning people to avoid going in the rivers because of high E. Coli levels.

The water quality is an even bigger concern for festival organizers this year as they are bringing back the annual raft race after a 16-year hiatus.

Right now the E. Coli levels in the rivers in Fort Wayne are anywhere between two and seven times the safe level.

The festival's director, Jack Hammer, says over the last several years they've looked at the levels during the Three Rivers Festival. He says 80 percent of the time they have been well below that safety standard set by the State of Indiana.

The two mile race route begins at Swinney Park West and ends at the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge. Police officers and security officials with the Three Rivers Festival will be on all of the bridges monitoring the race. The festival's director says safety is his number one priority.

"As much as money, time, hard work and heart has been invested, safety and being smart about the situation rules more than the heart and the hard work," said Jack Hammer, Executive Director, Three Rivers Festival.

The raft race is set for Saturday, July 20. Hammer says as they get closer to that date they'll be testing the water in the rivers every few days. He says if the E. Coli count doesn't drop to a safe level by then they will reschedule the raft race for the following Saturday.

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