Maryland’s Waterways: How Safe Are They for Swimming and Boating?

Maryland is home to various beautiful waterways, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River to the Atlantic Ocean. But how safe are these bodies of water for swimming and boating? The answer is not simple, but resources are available to help Marylanders make informed decisions about water safety.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44% of U.S. waterways are too polluted for swimming or fishing. This includes rivers, lakes, and beaches across the country. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources website. Monitors water quality at designated swimming beaches and other recreational areas. The MDE issues advisories or closures when bacteria levels exceed safe limits.

The MDE also monitors water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, a crucial ecosystem for Maryland and the surrounding states. The Chesapeake Bay Program, a partnership between federal and state agencies, tracks the health of the Bay and works to restore it to a healthier state. The program monitors water quality, habitat, and wildlife populations to ensure that the Bay remains a vital resource for future generations.

In addition to monitoring water quality, there are steps that individuals can take to protect themselves when swimming or boating in Maryland’s waterways. The MDE recommends that swimmers avoid swimming after heavy rain, which can cause bacteria levels to rise. Swimmers should also avoid areas where the water appears discolored or smells bad. Boaters should be mindful of their impact on the water and follow best practices for responsible boating, such as properly disposing trash and avoiding spills.

Resources are also available to help Marylanders stay informed about water quality in their area. The MDE’s Eyes on the Bay program provides real-time data on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The program also offers tips for boaters and swimmers to reduce their impact on the Bay and its wildlife.

Overall, while there are risks associated with swimming and boating in Maryland’s waterways, there are steps that individuals can take to protect themselves and the environment. By staying informed about water quality and following best practices for responsible recreation, Marylanders can continue to enjoy the state’s beautiful waterways for years.

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