This week we celebrate the 5th Annual Swimmable California Day thanks to the California Legislature proclaiming July 25th as a day to recognize our rights to coastlines, beaches, estuaries, rivers, streams, and lakes that are clean and safe for swimming, and to encourage Californians to enjoy and use their waters.
Clean water enhances the quality of life and well-being of all Californians. An estimated 238 million people use and enjoy California’s beaches each year and our ocean economy generates more than $40 billion. Three thousand lakes and 189,454 miles of river provide countless opportunities to splash and swim.
Unfortunately, too many of California’s beaches and waterways are polluted from dirty stormwater runoff and sewage spills. The California Water Boards have a duty to ensure that people are protected against illnesses from polluted water. However, the State Water Board will likely be considering new Bacteria Provisions on August 7th that will fail to protect swimmers against exposure to harmful pollutants during a day at the beach. California’s new rules mean for every 31 people you see swimming or playing on a California beach, one of them will go home sick with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
The State Water Board should not jeopardize the health of millions of people, billions of dollars from our coastal economy, and millions of jobs. California is not adequately assuring we have swimmable waterways in all parts of the state. The State Water Board should revisit its new standards to ensure they are more protective of public health.
To avoid becoming the 1 in 31 who gets sick, we recommend you celebrate Swimmable California Day by downloading the Swim Guide App to check the water quality at your local swimming hole, and stay at least 150 feet away from storm drains on the beach.
California’s iconic waters and way of life should be celebrated and preserved. California Coastkeeper Alliance and the California Waterkeepers will continue to honor our swimmable waters, while fighting for stronger protections for all California swimmers at all times of the year.
Policy Director Sean Bothwell works to implement statewide initiatives to enhance California’s water quality and supplies.