Sound Rivers to Offer Swim Guide This Summer

Citizen Science Bacteria Monitoring Program

Have you ever noticed an odd smell, green color, or fish kills along the Tar-Pamlico or Neuse Rivers and wondered what was causing it, or if contact with the water was safe? And have you wanted to try your hand as a scientist? If so, you can volunteer with our citizen science water quality monitoring program this summer and help answer  those questions! Sound Rivers is looking for local volunteers to collect water quality samples to test for levels of E. coli and Enterococcus on the Tar-Pamlico River. These bacteria are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tracts and feces of warm-blooded animals and humans, and are the best indicators of the presence of pathogens in surface waters. The results will be shared through our website, and a smartphone app called The Swim Guide so you can check conditions on the water.

Your participation will engage and educate the community, giving people the means to participate in stream monitoring, be active in restoration, and most importantly, to help us notify the public of health concerns associated with using the rivers and streams to boat, fish, or swim. The program will also help Sound Rivers advocate for the proper enforcement of environmental laws. Sound Rivers will closely coordinate with the Division of Marine Fisheries in the selection of monitoring locations and will be using accepted protocols and standards, helping to fill in gaps in the current government monitoring program and to ensure a more complete picture of the health our river. 

The Story Behind Swim Guide

Swim Guide began in Toronto, Canada. A team of staff and volunteers at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper set out to answer this simple question: Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?

That one question led them on a journey connecting Waterkeeper organizations across Canada and the USA, as well as other affiliates with a shared desire for swimmable waterways.

It should be easy to find clean water and a nice, accessible swimming hole. Unfortunately, reliable facts and figures about beach water quality were hard to come by. So they started compiling their own. For more than a decade, they tracked beach water quality trends, adding more beaches to the database every year.

The research led to the development of the Waterkeeper Swim Guide app for iPhone®, Android, or web. Created by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, this free app helps you find your closest beaches, know at a glance which ones are safe for swimming, and share your love of beaches with friends and family.

Waterkeepers are building Swim Guide for one reason: we want people to explore, enjoy, and fall in love with the beach so that our coastlines and swimming holes will be protected for generations to come.