Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Swimming and Beach Health Links
One of the most frequent questions we get at Eyes on the Bay is,
"Is it safe to swim in my area of the Bay?"
Swimming safety is usually determined by the concentration of bacteria in the water and sometimes by the concentration of certain algae that may produce compounds that can make humans sick. For the most part, bacteria concentrations are taken by county health departments at public swimming beaches, as well as by select Riverkeepers. The main site of interest for State/county data is the Maryland Healthy Beaches Program. Most Riverkeepers are now displaying their results on the Waterkeeper Swim Guide Map/App.
Maryland DNR and MDE respond to reports of unusual water conditions/spills and fish kills. If an incident is related to algae, DNR measures the concentration of algae, and if appropriate, levels of any algal toxins that may exist. Routine algal results can be viewed on our Harmful Algal Bloom map.
Call the DNR Chesapeake Bay Safety and Environmental Hotline at 1 (877) 224-7229 to report spills, fish kills or unusual water conditions.
General rules of thumbs are, don't go swimming if the water may look unusual (overly green, red or brown), and don't let dogs drink the water. Avoid water contact for at least 48 hours after heavy rains. If you have open wounds or a compromised immune system it is best to stay out of the water altogether.
We have provided a menu of detailed links below for more information. Stay safe, and enjoy our beautiful bays and rivers.