Cancelled swim portion of an Iowa triathlon highlights water quality issues


The start of the 2013 Iowa's Best Dam Triathlon at the Coralville Reservoir (Justin Torner)
The start of the 2013 Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon at the Coralville Reservoir (Justin Torner)
KC McGinnis | September 17, 2015

Triathletes in eastern Iowa were disappointed Sunday to find that the swim portion of Iowa’s Best Dam Triathlon (IBDT) had to be cancelled due to public health concerns.

After finding high E. coli concentrations in the Coralville Reservoir, IBDT race officials were forced to cut the swim portion of both the Olympic and Sprint distance triathlons held last weekend. They replaced the swim portion with an additional run, making the event a duathlon.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources regularly tests state beaches and lakes for E. coli, which can cause serious illness in humans. It is often carried into waterways through fertilizer runoff or sewage. Lake MacBride has had E. coli advisories posted since early August.

The cancelled swim event is another example of the toll of high nutrient runoff from agricultural production on Iowa water recreation. Mitigation efforts like Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy may help Iowans be able to enjoy clean water next summer.

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