Department of Environmental Conservation

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Swimming

There are many choices for places to swim in NYS. Use this page to find swimming spots as well as tips and tools you can use to help keep you informed when swimming in NYS. Also, download and print DEC's "The Water's Great in New York State" (PDF, 1 MB) bookmark and keep it handy as a guide for swimming safety this summer.

Lifeguard looking over swimming beach.
NY's waters are great for swimming and water recreation.

Find Places to Swim

  • Many of the DEC owned campgrounds have swimming beaches.
  • The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation swimming information page (link leaves DEC's website) lists swimming beaches and pools.
  • The Department of Health monitors many beaches; for information about regulated swimming beaches, contact your local health department (link leaves DEC's website).
  • The Department of Health coastal beach water quality information webpage (link leaves DEC's website) can be used to obtain information about the most recent water quality status of certain ocean and Great Lakes beaches in New York State.

Take Steps to Be Safe!

The New York State Department of Health advises that people swim at a beach regulated by the state, counties, towns or villages when possible, because these are monitored for safety and health. DOH will close beaches or post swimming advisories when beaches are unsafe.

DEC periodically samples surface waters, but does not sample beaches and cannot monitor conditions in all waters at all times.

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

  • Do not swallow water and consider keeping your face and head out of the water when swimming. This reduces the chance of getting sick from bacteria, parasites or other microorganisms that can enter your body through your mouth, eyes, ears and nose.
  • Avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water as it may contain microorganisms that can make people sick and it can make it harder to see underwater dangers.
  • Wash your hands after swimming, especially before eating, and shower when you are done swimming for the day.
  • Be extra careful near any dams or large boats because they can create undertows and dangerous currents. Never cross safety wires and other water hazard markers when near dams.

Be informed - Resources from DEC

If swimming somewhere other than a regulated bathing beach, DEC has resources to help you 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.

Sewage Pollution Right to Know

Publicly owned treatment works and publicly owned sewer systems are required to report sewage spills, which can pollute waterbodies. Learn more about sewage pollution and the law.

Sign up to receive sewage spill notifications

Sign up to receive sewage spill notifications directly to your phone, email or via text message by signing up for NY-Alert (link leaves DEC's website) and selecting the "Environmental" category. For more information on how to sign up visit visit the Sewage Pollution Right to Know webpage.

To find out if there have been recent sewage spills reported in your community or where you recreate, visit the Recent NY-Alert Sewage Spill Notifications and view archive reports on the Sewage Discharge Reports webpage.

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Wet Weather Advisory

Avoid swimming, boating, or fishing during or following a rainfall or snowmelt event within a waterbody that has a combined sewer overflow wastepipe. Visit the CSO Wet Weather Advisory webpage to learn more and find out if you live or recreate in a CSO community.

Google Map Icon

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

Harmful Algae Blooms

Certain types of organisms can grow quickly and form blooms, which can cover all or portions of a lake. Cyanobacteria, once called blue green algae, can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These blooms are called harmful algal blooms (HABs), and you should avoid recreating in, or drinking from, any water with this kind of bloom. Find out what lakes have a harmful algal bloom notice, what you can do to avoid blooms, and more information about harmful algal blooms related to swimming.

Different algae can form harmful algal blooms in marine waters; learn about marine blooms.

Learn about potential health effects on the Department of Health's Blue-green Algae webpage. (link leaves DEC's website)

Priority Waterbodies Map

Google Earth icon

Before going to your favorite swimming place, you can check to see if there are any water pollution problems on DEC's 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 tracked for water quality.

For more information about water quality in certain waterbodies, visit the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List webpage.