EASTON — ShoreRivers is pleased to announce an expanded bacteria testing program for the 2019 swimming season. The strain of bacteria sampled, Enterococci, indicates pathogens that may cause human illness. This bacteria can originate from a variety of sources, including failing septic systems, sewer overflows or leaks, poultry and livestock operations, improper disposal from marine tanks, and pet waste.

“We want to make sure where we’re swimming is healthy and safe,” Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett said at the recent River Report Card release in Grasonville.

To lower the risk of waterborne illness, Bassett said people should avoid swimming in open water for 24 to 48 hours after a major rain event, not swim with open cuts, not swim if the water looks or smells odd and always shower after swimming.

During significant rainfalls, the possibility always exists for elevated and unsafe bacteria levels.

ShoreRivers will test popular swim sites weekly until Labor Day: five sites on the Choptank River, two sites in Eastern Bay, one site on the Wye River, two sites on the Miles River, 12 sites on the Chester River, and three sites on the Sassafras River.

Sites include: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park Beach, Oxford Strand, Bellevue Beach, Sailwinds Park Beach, Great Marsh Park, Claiborne Beach, Broad Cove, Drum Point Beach on Wye Island, Miles River Yacht Club, Tunis Mills Landing, Duck Neck, Morgan Creek, Rosin Creek, Chestertown Marina, Chester River Yacht and Country Club, Rolphs Wharf, Camp Pecometh, Langford Bay, Grays Inn Creek, Conquest Beach, Corsica River Yacht Club, Centreville Wharf, Georgetown Bridge, Dyer Creek, and Indian Acres.

To get the latest bacteria monitoring results, go to www.swimguide.org or download the Swim Guide app, she said. One can also search #SwimmableShoreRivers on Facebook and Instagram.

Results will be posted on the SwimGuide website (theswimguide.org) and smart phone app that allows users across the Chesapeake Bay region to check the health of local swimming beaches. Additionally, ShoreRivers’ Riverkeepers will post bacteria results on their social media pages. Follow the Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper, and Sassafras Riverkeeper on Facebook and Instagram for updates, or follow #SwimmableShoreRivers.

The ShoreRivers Pump-out Boat is a free service to the boating community that helps combat this harmful pollution. Local and visiting boaters are encouraged to take advantage of this service and do their part to keep our waterways clean. The boat servies the busy St. Michaels Harbor and marinas and private docks on the Miles and Wye rivers.

ShoreRivers launched this program in 2016 as a convenient way for boaters to properly dispose of concentrated marine waste without polluting our rivers. The Pump-out Boat is funded by the Department of Natural Resources, and operates in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which provides dockage for the vessel free dockage, storage, and use of their land-based pump-out station to off-load waste that is transferred to the updated St. Michaels Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Pump-out Boat Captain Jim Freeman said, “Both transients and locals rave about the convenience of using the pump-out boat because they don’t have to deal with the hassle of a crowded marina in order to pump-out their tanks. We can serve any boater on the Miles and Wye Rivers and can remove up to 300 gallons of waste from their vessel.”

More than 1,000 boats have receive pump-outs since the vessel began operating, and ShoreRivers’ pump-out boat pumped out a record amount of waste in 2018.

This free service is available Friday evenings and weekends (including holiday Mondays) through October. Boaters can contact the Pump-out Boat at 410-829-4352 or VHF channel 9 to arrange service.

Freeman is also available at pobcaptjim@gmail.com to answer questions or setup a regular schedule. ShoreRivers is looking forward to another productive year and hopes to break last year’s record of keeping 15,000 gallons of waste out of local rivers, he said.

For more information about any of ShoreRivers’ water quality programs, visit shorerivers.org or call 443-385-0511.

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