Open Water Nationals Venue Experiencing Unsafe pH Levels

by Spencer Penland 11

April 26th, 2018 National, News, Open Water

The Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Arizona, has had to cancel its “Splash and Dash” event scheduled for the evening of April 26th, due to a pH level that is above levels allowed by federal regulation, according to an email sent out by the event’s organizers. The venue is scheduled to host the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships for the first time this year – a week after the cancelled event.

The “Splash and Dash” is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, and it is unknown at this point whether they will attempt to reschedule the event or perhaps reschedule and relocate it. Tempe Town Lake is also set to host the “Cactus Man” event this coming weekend, which is another USA Triathalon sanctioned event, and they have announced that the event is still set to be held as scheduled, as employees try to get the pH level under control.

The lake is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, which requires that bodies of water used for swimming have a pH of 9.0 or less. The lake had been consistently at a pH of 9.2 in recent days, and when the water was tested this morning, they had gotten it down to 9.1, but that is still too high. The City of Tempe believes the spike in pH to be caused by higher than normal levels of golden algae. Golden algae kills fish, and the city believes this is what primarily caused the pH to increase.

USA Swimming is set to hold Open Water Nationals at Tempe Town Lake on May 4th-6th, adding to concerns about getting the pH in the lake to regulation levels. We have reached out to USA Swimming asking if they have an alternative plan for Open Water Nationals in the event that Tempe Town Lake is unsafe to compete in, but haven’t received a response yet.


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AZ Loop

The lake is a dump, why would they even consider that site in the first place.


Is that true?Going there for Open Water Swim in May and wasn’t sure what to expect.


The lake is fine. I have swum there many times and, yes, sometimes events get cancelled, but that’s actually a good thing: I would argue that, because of the constant monitoring, Tempe Town Lake is cleaner than many more lightly regulated / monitored venues.


Never should have taken it away from Florida, Fort Myers specifically. Why would USA Swimming publicly announce Ft Myers as permanent venue for this event (SwimSwam ran an article on that announcement some time back), then pull it and move it to Arizona where the water quality is obviously poor and the heat and air excessive?

I don’t remember that announcement, and can’t seem to find it. Do you have a link?


Maybe USA Swimming was trying to get the swimmers ready for the PanPacs and Olympics 2020 open water venue in Japan which has water quality issues… PanPacs is moving the OW to another course because the planned course is not meeting quality standards.

Coach Mike 1952

Just quick brainstorming, but what about the possibility of Lake Mead if the venue has to be moved? It is in the “general” area anyway, & they would likely welcome it. Of course, it would take some speedy negotiating with the Dept. of the Interior too for sure.

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