'Swimmable Water Weekend' in Savannah River

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News 12 @ 11 o'clock / Saturday, July 26, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga (WRDW) -- This week, Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus took to Facebook to try and get more people out, and into the water.

"We're here to issue you a challenge...to go out to your local lake, river, stream- jump in," Bonitatibus said on a video posted on the Savannah Riverkeeper Facebook page.

Bonitatibus' challenge is a part of a national campaign to get people swimming on local waterways.

But after a report in June named the Savannah River as the third most toxic river in the country, some people have been skeptical of taking a dip.

Steve Arnold is the Chief of the Richmond County Diving team, and he says people shouldn't be afraid of the water.

"You don't see homeowners throwing trash off their docks. You don't see people throwing debris off of bridges or anything. This is actually a very clean, very clear body of water," Arnold said.

Chris Powell likes to go boating and swimming in the river, and he says as long as you stay in the right areas, the water's clear.

"A lot of pollution has gone downstream. Right now we're on the upperside of the river, so it's better up here at the top," Powell said.

The June study said 80 percent of the pollution comes from DSM Chemicals near the I-520 bridge.