Don’t swim in the Merrimack River for at least the next 2 days, officials say

Several cities close to Newburyport reported sewage overflows this morning into the river.

The Newburyport Health Department is recommending that no one interact with the Merrimack River for at least the next two days. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis)

The Newburyport Health Department is warning the public to stay out of the Merrimack River for at least the next two days due to multiple sewer overflows upstream.

On Tuesday, the Health Department said, the cities of Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill reported sewer overflows into the river in the early morning.


These overflows contain stormwater, untreated or partially treated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris, it said, and have made the river unsafe for both human and pet contact.

The Health Department recommends that people and their pets avoid contact with the Merrimack River for at least the next 48 hours due to increased health risks from bacteria and other pollutants.


The Health Department clarified that the city of Newburyport does not use the Merrimack River as a source of drinking water, and that residents need not worry about the water coming from their faucets.

Temporary warning signs will be posted along Merrimack River public access points, including Moseley Woods, Cashman Park, Harbormaster, Joppa Flats, and Plum Island, the Health Department said.

The Health Department said it will conduct water testing in conjunction with the Harbormaster and other City departments to ensure public safety.

Updates on this matter will be posted on the City’s website. Those with specific questions are asked to contact the Health Department at 978-465-4410.


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