Division of Water sampling results for IRONMAN course show improvement

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 5, 2015) – The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) sampling results from the Ohio River near the IRONMAN triathlon race course taken on Thursday, Oct. 1 show microcystin toxin levels lower than past sampling events.

The test results from around the IRONMAN swim course show harmful algal blooms (HABs) microcystin toxin levels to be below four parts per billion. The threshold for issuing the recreation advisory is 20 parts per billion.

A decision by DOW and the Department for Public Health (DPH) related to lifting the recreation advisory will not be made until consecutive tests below 20 parts per billion for microcystin toxins are obtained, and the agencies determine that the likelihood of the area being affected from upstream sources are not significant. A second test showing results below 20 parts per billion would allow DOW to lift the advisory. More testing is scheduled on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

With several thousand IRONMAN triathletes expected in Louisville on Sunday, Oct. 11 for the annual IRONMAN Louisville triathlon, the DOW, the DPH and representatives from IRONMAN are working together over the next six days to assess the safety conditions of the Ohio River on race day after HABs were confirmed in the Louisville area.

HABs in the Ohio River prompted a recreational advisory that extends from the West Virginia state line to the Cannelton Locks and Dam located in Hancock County, Kentucky.

DOW has performed two sampling and testing cycles and will conduct as many as two more sampling and testing cycles total in and around the race course between today and Thursday before the race to assess the presence of HABs in the river.

HABs arise when there are excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sunny conditions, warm temperatures and low-flow or low-water conditions. DOW and IRONMAN are hopeful these conditions will improve in the Ohio River given the recent drop in air and water temperature, as well as an increase in precipitation.

For additional information about this advisory, contact Melanie Arnold at the Kentucky Division of Water at (502) 564-3410 or Justin T. Carey, Division of Public Health Protection and Safety, Department for Public Health, at (502) 564-7398.