Swim Guide

Gunpowder Riverkeeper takes a proactive role in safeguarding the watershed from threats to its health and stability through scientific monitoring of the river, engaging at the source to address identified threats. We advocate for stronger enforcement of our laws for clean water in both the Gunpowder and Bush River Watersheds and the Chesapeake Bay, protecting our region for current and future generations.

In partnership with Community Environmental Laboratories, an EPA-certified water testing laboratory located in Harford County, and Harford County Health Department and with outreach to Baltimore County Health Department, Gunpowder Riverkeeper collects water quality samples. We communicate historical and current data to the public on the state of the watershed's health and stability. Our water monitoring results are posted to Swim Guide and help inform the public on where they can recreate safely along the River as well as indicators for possible stormwater or point-source pollution.

Our sampling tests for E.Coli levels at access points along the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers. The EPA's Safe Swimming Criteria for Maximum Probable number of E.Coli is set at the threshold of 126 MPN (geometric mean) and 235 (single sample). According to the Maryland Department of the Environment's brief on the EPA's water quality criteria, at 126 MPN (geometric mean) and 235 (single sample), it is estimated that 36 individuals out of 1000 swimmers may contract a water-borne gastroenteritis illness.

When our samples indicate E.Coli counts over the EPA's criteria, it is recommended that the public avoid contact with the water within that area until further sampling is conducted.

Please reference the Gunpowder Riverkeeper Swim Guide map if you're planning to use an access point along the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers. You can download the Swim Guide app today!

A green icon tells you that the site is safe for swimming according to the EPA Safe Swimming Standard. A red icon tells you the water quality has failed to meet the EPA Safe Swimming Standard at the site during our last sampling collection.

Swim Guide Map

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