With Memorial Day weekend approaching and as summer starts, many visitors and area residents look for recreational opportunities on the Pend Oreille River, including boating, swimming, and fishing. However, the current flood conditions present significant health and safety risks. Because of the danger of the high-water levels, fast moving waters, cold water conditions, and significant debris, many public recreation sites along the river are closed.
The river is nearing record flood levels and is expected to remain flooded into June. Northeast Tri County Health District Health Officer Sam Artzis, M.D., is urging individuals to avoid direct contact with floodwaters due to the high risk of water contamination. With flooding occurring throughout the Pend Oreille Lake and River, flood waters contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural wastes, and other contaminates.
If contact with flood water is unavoidable, Dr. Artzis recommends that “individuals should practice very good hygiene with frequent handwashing, limit exposure of open cuts or wounds to floodwater, and seek medical attention if unusual symptoms develop. It’s also important when working to clean up after flood events that individuals are current on vaccinations, especially for tetanus.” For further information about how to stay healthy during flood events, visit www.netchd.org.
Northeast Tri County Health District Offices:
• Colville – Stevens County: 509-684-2262 Option #2
• Newport – Pend Oreille County: 509-447-3131
• Republic – Ferry County: 509-775-3111