Before River Festival begins, city says Arkansas River OK for recreational use

City officials on Thursday declared the Arkansas River suitable for recreational use, a key step before the Wichita River Festival kicks off this weekend.

However, recreational use is subject to the following conditions, city officials said:

• Avoid swallowing river water.

• Wash your hands before putting them near your mouth for eating, drinking or smoking.

• Wash your arms and hands after getting out of the river.

• If you have an open wound, stay out of the river.

During the annual river celebration, the city will display flags at the Douglas and Lewis Street bridges to update visitors about river quality and flow, based on daily testing. A blue flag means the river is fine for recreational activities. A green flag means the river is suitable for use, but subject to advisory conditions, and an orange flag means the river is not for public use due to a special event.

Participants in water events should wear life preservers, follow safe boating practices and avoid the use of alcohol.

The city’s river advisory information will also be available at