Jerry Summers: Don't Drink The Water, Ethel

  • Tuesday, September 26, 2023
  • Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

A slight alteration of the phrase from the Ray Stephens hit comedy song “The Streak” (1974)—“Don’t Look Ethel” evolves in a greater safety message than the recent news release by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) reprinted in this publication explains.

Styled “TDEC Lifts Water Contact Advisory from Citico Creek” it raises new safety concerns about the creek that empties into the Tennessee River (TR site) that existed until 2012 as the Cannon Equipment/Cumberland Corporation on Riverside Drive.

The rather confusing news release smacks of uncertainty that requires more discussion and defining of terms:

  1. Water contact advisory- issued by government agencies such as TDEC when recreational use “(defined as swimming, wading or fishing) has been impaired by significantly elevated by pathogen levels”;
  2. Pathogens are defined in one source as being “any organism or agent that produced disease”;
  3. “Citico Creek recreational use will stay listed as impacted although the water contact advisory has been lifted?”;
  4. An “unnamed tributary” (a river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake) has not had its water contact advisory lifted (?);
  5. Questions does Citico Creek or unnamed tributary empty into the Tennessee River?;
    1. Is the pathogen data that authorized the TDEC to lift the advisory on water from 2023 or is relied upon from a new analysis of data collected in 2019 and 2020?
    2. Does the unnamed tributary that connects to Citico Creek enter the T.R. on Riverside Drive?
    3. Will the advisory signs go back up after the race?

Answers to these questions become relevant in 2023 and the future because of sporting activities that include a swimming contest in the Tennessee River!

(Submission of this article has been delayed until after the September 24, 2023 triathlon so as not to discourage any participants from competing in the three-leg event including the 2.4 mile dip in the pristine Tennessee River!)

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