Go Jump in a Lake! …but Check the Swim Guide App First
Surely nobody wants to swim in bacteria-infected waters. And nobody wants to get an infection from swimming in the river.
But how do you know? Water quality changes week-to-week.
Well, local riverkeepers are introducing an App to keep you apprised of water quality at several spots in the river, giving you the ability to use a smartphone at the community pier or on the boat to keep up with the latest reports.
The App gives several locations in the South River and several in the West River. If the water is safe, the swimmer icon is green. If the water quality is not, the icon is red.
Pretty simple, huh?
The Swim Guide App is available at the App Store, Google Play or at www.theSwimGuide.org.
In a news release from Chris Trumbauer, West/Rhode Riverkeeper, the App release is in conjunction with “Swimmable Action Day.” The South Riverkeeper has also joined in to keep the information updated.
Each week, volunteers from both organizations visit sites on the three rivers (South, West, Rhode) to take water quality samples that are then tested at the lab at Anne Arundel Community College by Dr. Sally Hornor as part of “Operation Clearwater.”
The launch of the App coincides with the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and Swimmable Action Day—which encourages citizens to celebrate the right to clean, swimmable waters. The Clean Water Act passed Congress in 1972. The law regulates the discharge of pollutants into American waterways.
The Swim Guide App will show water quality in other areas besides the Chesapeake Region. As part of the Riverkeeper Alliance, info will also be available on rivers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts—so check it out when you go on vacation.
In addition, the App can help you to find beaches and swimming holes and includes photos and directions.
“One of the most frequent questions I am asked as Riverkeeper is ‘Is it safe to swim in the rivers?’” said Chris Trumbauer, West/Rhode Riverkeeper. “The Swim Guide provides a free, easy to use way for swimmers see the most recent bacteria data for their favorite swimming hole, and to make informed decisions about whether to swim. Swim Guide will help bring this important information to a much wider audience.”
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekly water quality testing is conducted in local waterways.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Health routinely warns swimmers to stay out of local waterways up to 48 hours after a rain event due to runoff that fouls the water.
“Dead zones and fish kills are a community concern, but few things capture the public’s attention like increased risks to human health,” said Erik Michelsen, Executive Director of South River Federation. “One of our foremost goals is to inform people of pollution levels that could sicken swimmers or their pets. This tool will make it easier for individuals to get that information wherever they are.”
Trumbauer said that the Swim Guide app originated with a team from Lake Ontario Waterkeeper chapter and grew to more than 128,000 points of data to help people check the status and cleanliness of local beaches in real time.
The Swim Guide App creators how to continue to expand coverage until it covers beaches in every major community in North America.
And for this week, the App shows that the West/Rhode Riverkeeper spots are clear and swimmable. One location in the South River, at Broad Creek near Heritage Harbour, showed elevated bacteria. The rest are in the green.