, Director of Swimmable Water Programs
Posted: July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Is it safe to swim in the river or Bay today?  Rona Kobell of the Bay Journal explored this question with some of our Swim Guide Affiliates, Chris Trumbauer,  West/ Rhode Riverkeeper; Dave Burden, the Virginia Coastkeeper & Fred Tutman, Patuxent Riverkeeper.  We hope their answers empower you learn more about water quality concerns and demand access to healthy beaches.

…Over the last decade, the public has enjoyed access to far more information than ever before about whether it’s safe to swim.

Part of that is due to the Beach Act, which Congress passed in 2000. It extended federal pollution protections to coastal waters and provided funding for states to set up their own monitoring programs for pathogens. Counties and states routinely close public beaches when counts exceed certain standards. The Beach Act also provided historical data, so that swimmers could see over time how often certain beaches were closed and what times of year to avoid them.

After the Beach Act was passed, most county health departments stepped up their monitoring of popular beaches, testing once a week or maybe twice a month for bacteria. But often, that’s not enough, and it doesn’t tell people whether it’s safe to swim this afternoon.

“You’re telling people the conditions, and they’re making decisions for today, based on yesterday’s water,” said Jon Divine, a senior attorney in the water division of the Natural Resources Defense Council….

Technology has allowed communities to go even further. [Lake Ontario Waterkeeper] recently introduced the Swim Guide, a free app, and a website at, which provides up-to-date information on many beaches. It even has a button where users can e-mail the Riverkeeper to report pollution…

You can read the full article in the Bay Journal by clicking here

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