Safe swimming reports, pump-out boat available from ShoreRivers

Jim Freeman is shown operating ShoreRivers’ pump-out boat. The free service is offered weekends from May to October on the Miles and Wye rivers.

EASTON — With temperatures rising, ShoreRivers is offering a website and app to let residents and visitors know which local waterways are safe for swimming.

ShoreRivers will test popular swim sites weekly until Labor Day: five sites on the Choptank River, two sites in Eastern Bay, one site on the Wye River, two sites on the Miles River, 12 sites on the Chester River and three sites on the Sassafras River.

Sites include: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park Beach, Oxford Strand, Bellevue Beach, Sailwinds Park Beach, Great Marsh Park, Claiborne Beach, Broad Cove, Drum Point Beach on Wye Island, Miles River Yacht Club, Tunis Mills Landing, Duck Neck, Morgan Creek, Rosin Creek, Chestertown Marina, Chester River Yacht and Country Club, Rolphs Wharf, Camp Pecometh, Langford Bay, Grays Inn Creek, Conquest Beach, Corsica River Yacht Club, Centreville Wharf, Georgetown Bridge, Dyer Creek and Indian Acres.

Results will be posted on theswimguide.org and a smartphone app that allows users across the Chesapeake Bay region to check the health of local swimming beaches. Additionally, ShoreRivers’ Riverkeepers will post bacteria results on their social media pages.

Follow the Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper and Sassafras Riverkeeper on Facebook and Instagram for updates, or follow #SwimmableShoreRivers.

ShoreRivers also has announced an expanded bacteria testing program for the 2019 swimming season. The strain of bacteria sampled, Enterococci, indicates pathogens that may cause human illness. This bacteria can originate from a variety of sources, including failing septic systems, sewer overflows or leaks, poultry and livestock operations, improper disposal from marine tanks and pet waste, according to ShoreRivers.

“We want to make sure where we’re swimming is healthy and safe,” Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett said at a recent ShoreRiver Report Card release held in Grasonville.

To lower the risk of waterborne illness, Bassett said people should avoid swimming in open water for 24 to 48 hours after a major rain event. Do not swim with open cuts or if the water looks or smells odd. Also, always shower after swimming.

During significant rainfalls, the possibility exists for elevated and unsafe bacteria levels.

ShoreRivers offers a free pump-out service to the boating community. Local and visiting boaters are encouraged to take advantage of this service. The ShoreRivers pump-out boat services St. Michaels Harbor and marinas and private docks on the Miles and Wye rivers.

ShoreRivers launched the program in 2016. The pump-out boat is funded by the Department of Natural Resources, and operates in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which provides the vessel free dockage, storage and use of its land-based pump-out station to offload waste.

“Both transients and locals rave about the convenience of using the pump-out boat because they don’t have to deal with the hassle of a crowded marina in order to pump-out their tanks. We can serve any boater on the Miles and Wye Rivers and can remove up to 300 gallons of waste from their vessel,” said Jim Freeman, captain of ShoreRivers pump-out boat.

This free service is available Friday evenings and weekends — including holiday Mondays — through October. Boaters call 410-829-4352 or radio VHF channel 9 to arrange service. Jim Freeman also is available at pobcaptjim@gmail.com to answer questions or set up a regular schedule.

For more information about any of ShoreRivers’ water quality programs, visit shorerivers.org or call 443-385-0511.

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