The Woodlands says waterway safe for swimming

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (KTRK) -- Three thousand athletes will take to the water in the first leg of an Ironman triathlon two weeks from Saturday in The Woodlands. And contrary to concerns from some athletes, The Woodlands told Eyewitness News the water there is just fine.

The worries about water quality stem from two issues.

One of them is that the 2.4 mile swim was altered last year because of water quality in the canal. That was due to runoff from the historic Tax Day flooding a week before the 2016 race.

Add to the mix this year's bloom of algae and plant life in part of the waterway, and there were concerns the course might be altered again. Not so. The Woodlands Township says the water quality in the lower portion of the waterway, where the swim takes place, is good to go.

"I think there has been a little bit of confusion," said T.J. Fry, a competitor in last year's Ironman. "There are two parts to the waterway. There's sort of the upper waterway with the restaurants and the shops, and that sort of thing. And then the lower waterway connects to the lake."

So barring any flooding between now and race day, the preferred course from the lake to the waterway is intact.

The race on April 22, 2017 is for the North American Championships. In an email to Eyewitness News, the assistant general manager of The Woodlands Township eased concerns for those who've seen the algae and plant growth in the part of the waterway not used for the race.

"The upper level is being dredged to remove the buildup that is causing problems for the Waterway Cruisers," he wrote. "The water quality testing leading up to the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas has been clear, with no concerns."

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