May 18, 2020

Media Contact: Robert Parker, public information officer, Western Region,


(LEBANON, Va.) – Last month, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued an advisory recommending against recreational water use by people and pets (swimming, wading, boating, tubing) and consuming fish from a portion of the Clinch River in Russell County, due to problems with the wastewater treatment plant serving the Town of Cleveland. With the beginning of the spring and summer recreational water season this month, VDH reminds everyone that these advisories remain in effect until further notice.

On April 4, 2020 the sewage treatment plant serving the Town of Cleveland was severely damaged. Repairs are under way, but there remains a possibility that raw sewage may overflow from the plant and enter the Clinch River, until repairs are completed.

These advisories extend along the Clinch River in Russell County, from the campground in the Town of Cleveland to the public boat launch ramp at Carterton.

For your safety, swimming or other recreational activities for people and pets, including wading, tubing, canoeing and kayaking, are prohibited. A fish consumption advisory also is in place. Do not eat fish caught in this section of the river. Catch-and-release fishing is still permitted.

Swallowing contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, with vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. Contact with contaminated water also can cause infections of the ears, nose, throat and skin.

VDH recommends these safety tips for those who enjoy swimming, wading, kayaking, canoeing or rafting in Virginia’s rivers:

  • Avoid swimming in natural waters for a few days after a heavy rain event.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
  • Avoid getting water shot up your nose when swimming, especially in warm shallow water.
  • Avoid swimming or wading in with open wounds or cuts.
  • Look for posted signs near the swimming area.
  • Don’t swim in areas where there are dead fish present.
  • Don’t swim if you are ill.
  • Shower with soap and clean water after swimming.
  • Avoid swimming in muddy water of lakes, ponds, and rivers or where algal blooms are visible.
  • Avoid swimming in unfamiliar ponds, streams, creeks, ditches, and canals.
  • Be aware of local weather conditions prior to recreational activities.
  • When in doubt, stay out!

For more information, call 276-889-7621 or visit (NOTE: The attached warning sign will be posted at river access points.)