Health Dept. to Issue River Water Advisories Starting May 15

The Allegheny County Health Department will issue water advisories for the 2013 river recreation season beginning Wednesday, May 15, and continuing through Monday, September 30.

The advisories indicate whether water quality in rivers and streams is normal, or a combined sewer overflow (CSO) alert has been issued. Alerts are issued when significant rainfall causes sewers carrying a combination of sewage and storm water to overflow and contaminate rivers and streams.

A CSO alert does not prohibit recreational activity, but rather cautions people to minimize water contact during outings. Those with weakened immune systems and open cuts or sores are more vulnerable to infection from exposure to contaminated water.

Boaters and others who enjoy the rivers may get updates by calling the advisory hotline at 412-687-ACHD (2243), visiting, or subscribing to a text alert system by visiting

When an alert is in effect, marinas, docks and other sites along the rivers fly orange-colored flags with “CSO” in black, which stands for “Combined Sewer Overflow.” Thirty sites are participating in the flag program this year: 15 on the Allegheny; seven on the Monongahela; six on the Ohio; and two on the Youghiogheny. The complete list of sites is below.

The frequency and duration of the alerts, which have been issued by the Health Department during every recreational boating season since 1995, vary depending on the amount of rainfall. For example, eight alerts lasting an average of four days each were issued last summer, which was relatively dry. By contrast, six alerts lasting an average of 21 days each occurred during the wet summer of 2004.

2013 CSO Flag Sites

  • Allegheny River: Aspinwall Marina; Brilliant Marina; Fox Chapel Marina; Millvale Marina; Oakmont Water Plant; Outboard Haven Marina; Pittsburgh River Rescue; Pittsburgh Water Plant; Tarentum Water Plant; Three Rivers Rowing Association; Upper Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Plant; Washington’s Landing; and locks & dams #2, #3 & #4.
  • Monongahela River: Carousel Marina; Clairton Sewage Plant; McKeesport Sewage Plant; Mon Valley Speedboat Club; Sandcastle; and locks & dams #2 & #3.
  • Ohio River: Dashields Lock & Dam; Emsworth Lock & Dam; Groveton Boat Club; Midway Marina; River Quest; and West View Water Plant.
  • Youghiogheny River: McKees Point Marina; and Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County’s McKeesport Water Plant.
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