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Disclaimer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Swimming

With more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs, nearly 600 miles of ocean and Great Lakes coastline, about 1,500 square miles of marine estuaries and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, there are many choices for places to swim in NYS.

Lifeguard looking over swimming beach.
NY's waters are great for swimming and water recreation,
but they are also used for drinking water supplies,
fishing, shellfishing, flood control, power generation,
and manufacturing and provide habitat for plants and animals.

Find Recommended Places to Swim

Be Safe!

NY's waters are great for swimming and water recreation, but they are also used for drinking water supplies, fishing, shellfishing, flood control, power generation, and manufacturing and provide habitat for plants and animals.

DEC routinely monitors surface waters to determine the average or typical water quality; however, DEC does not continuously monitor water quality in all waters. The New York State Department of Health advises that people swim at a beach regulated by the state, counties, towns or villages whenever possible, because these are monitored for safety and health and are posted for closures or swimming advisories when there are unsafe conditions.

Reduce your exposure to microorganisms, chemicals and hazards while in the water

People who choose to go in unmonitored or unregulated water can help protect their health by following the advice below.

  • Don't swallow water and consider keeping your face and head out of the water when swimming. This reduces exposure to bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms that might make people sick by entering the body by swallowing, and through eyes, ears and nose.
  • Avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water as it may affect a person's ability to see underwater hazards.
  • Wash your hands after swimming, especially before eating, and shower when you are done swimming for the day to wash off water and dirt.
  • Take extra precautions near any dams or large watercraft because they can create undertows and dangerous currents. Never cross safety wires and other water hazard markers when recreating near dams.

More Safe Swimming Resources

Be informed!

If swimming somewhere other than a regulated bathing beach, DEC has resources to help the public make informed decisions and avoid potential hazards.

Boy playing in water at a regulated swimming beach.
DEC has resources to help the public make informed
decisions and avoid potential hazards, if swimming
somewhere other than a regulated beach.

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Wet Weather Advisory- Avoid contact or recreation (swimming, boating, and fishing) during or following a rainfall or snowmelt event within a waterbody that has a combined sewer overflow outfall. Learn more about the CSO Wet Weather Advisory. Find out if you live or recreate in a CSO community.

Google Earth icon

View the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Outfalls Google Earth Map (requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer).

Sewage Pollution Right to Know-Sometimes sewage from homes and businesses, conveyed through a collection system does not reach the wastewater treatment facility because of weather, blockages, mechanical failures, or vandalism. If the untreated sewage does not reach the treatment facility and is not treated it can pollute waterbodies. Publicly owned treatment works and publicly owned sewer systems are required to report these discharges to DEC. Learn more about sewage pollution and the law. Find out if there have been any sewage discharges reported in your community or where you recreate, visit the Sewage Discharge Reports web page.

Harmful Algae Blooms- Certain types of algae naturally present in lakes, streams, marine waters and ponds can become abundant and form visible blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. Learn about blue-green algae and find out what lakes have a blue-green algae notice. Different algae can form harmful algal blooms in marine waters; learn about marine blooms. Also, learn about potential health effects on the Department of Health's Blue-green Algae webpage.

Priority Waterbodies Map-Find out if a waterbody in NY has an impairment. For information about what is being done to improve water quality, visit the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List webpage.

Google Earth icon

View the Priority Waterbodies List (PWL) Google Earth Map (requires Google Earth to be installed on your computer). This is a map of NYS waterbodies that are part of a statewide inventory that tracks water quality, supported uses, problems, pollutants, and pollution sources.

Learn more about the waters of NYS.