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'All of these people are saying it's safe to swim, but the city is providing virtually no direction on where to swim,' Willie Levenson said.

FILE PHOTO - FROM LEFT: Willie Levenson, Andy Jansky, Tom Vandel, Tod Cordill and John Ostrander help move rocks and clean up the new area at Poets Beach in downtown Portland in 2014.Willie Levenson wants Portlanders to fall in love with their hometown river, and he's betting a refreshing summer swim will help.

The co-owner of Popina Swimwear founded the Human Access Project to encourage people to swim in the Willamette with annual events like The Big Float.

He lead the charge to create the new Audrey McCall (named for the late first lady of Oregon) swimming beach near the Hawthorne Bridge, which will officially open Friday.

A long history of sewer overflows and toxic pollution sullied the Willamette and its reputation, but that's changing with regulation, sewer upgrades and cleanups. Now city and state officials agree the river is clean enough for swimming.

That is, Levenson says, if you can find a way in.

Click here to read the rest of the story by OPB, a media partner of the Portland Tribune.

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