Blogs > Water Quality > Do people swim in the Hudson River?

Do people swim in the Hudson River?


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For many, the answer is obvious. Yes, people swim in the Hudson River, and in great numbers. They also wade and splash at the water’s edge. They jet-ski. They water ski. They are dragged along in tubes by motor boats. They paddle kayaks, sitting in an inch of river water. They glide along on stand up paddleboards, and sometimes, they fall in.

A little history about swimming in the Hudson RiverLike swimming, these activities are considered “primary contact recreation” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because participants are likely to ingest water or immerse their bodies in water. Water quality must be safe, so that enjoying these activities don’t put people at risk of illness from exposure to pathogens associated with sewage. To achieve good water quality, we need to invest in water infrastructure and watershed management.

Despite the ubiquity of primary contact recreation in the Hudson, Riverkeeper is often asked this basic question: Do people really swim? Through a series of blog posts this summer, Riverkeeper will highlight in- and on-water recreation, with a particular focus on documenting some of the changes in public use of the estuary since 2000, which is both the year that Riverkeeper started routine Hudson River patrols, and the year New York State commissioned a study of potential new public bathing beaches.

Swimming in Rondout CreekOur findings demonstrate that public use of the river is significant and growing – and that sustained public investments in improving water quality are particularly urgent in the face of precipitation extremes brought on by the climate crisis. Our findings also suggest the need for new investments in access, particularly to serve historically excluded communities and responding to sea-level rise.

Blog Posts in this Series:
Event swimming returns to the Hudson >
Climate extremes and beach closures on the Hudson >
Hudson River kayaking, SUPs and more on the rise >

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