Even though the snow has just started to fall and winter is here, I can’t help but think about summer. When I think about getting outside, especially on the river, one of the first things I look forward to do is jumping in! The cool water provides such a welcome relief from the hot sun beating down on my neck and back. But just jumping in can also be hazardous, which is where the Snake River Waterkeeper is working to educate river lovers – from swimmers and boaters to walkers and anglers – about the safety of local rivers and streams within the Snake River Basin.
Snake River Waterkeeper, a 2016 Connecting Communities to Rivers Grantee, has made connecting with and recreating on the Snake River easier and safer for everyone with their Swim Guide App, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Android Google Store. The Swim Guide App provides valuable information about river health and safe recreation, ranging from eastern Washington and Oregon across Idaho and into western Wyoming. The free App focuses on areas that are heavily used by swimmers and other river recreation enthusiasts, featuring directions, an “I’m Here!” button to meet up with friends, and identifications of reaches where water is too polluted for swimming.
Water quality data and safety information is continuously updated as it becomes available. This past summer, with the help of nearly 100 volunteers, Snake River Waterkeeper cleaned up river trash and sampled water quality at 110 sites – spanning the full reach of the Snake and its tributaries – to ensure safe river outings for Swim Guide users. Data is under ongoing evaluation to determine water quality trends as well as to substantiate and guide programmatic objectives that are helping improve water, fisheries, and experiences in the Snake River and its myriad tributaries.
The Swim Guide and 2016 monitoring efforts have wrapped up for the year, but if you are interested in volunteering with Snake River Waterkeeper next summer – please let us know! Plans to get out and improve water quality on our rivers next year are already underway!