Columbia Riverkeeper monitors water quality at popular Columbia River recreation sites. Check current conditions on Swim Guide, a user-friendly app.
We collect water samples weekly in the Columbia River Gorge from the Hood River and the mainstem Columbia at the Hood River Waterfront Park Swim Beach, Event Site, Outer Hook, and Inner Hook. We collect samples at most other sites monthly or twice-monthly.
Clean water is a right, and all people deserve the opportunity to swim and fish without fear of getting sick.
Our water quality monitoring data doesn’t gather dust on a shelf. Riverkeeper staff and volunteers monitor water quality at popular recreation sites and upload data to Swim Guide, a website and app that make it easy to find and learn about popular swim beaches. Download or search Swim Guide in the app store (for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® and Android).
So you can swim in the Columbia with confidence!
The app uses real-time E.coli data collected by Riverkeeper staff and volunteers to flag Columbia River beaches that are safe or unsafe for swimming. While Swim Guide does not consider toxic pollution or other potential environmental concerns, you can use the tool to avoid beaches with unsafe bacteria levels.
How safe is the Columbia River for recreational use?
State and federal agencies collect very little site-specific data to help you decide how safe a particular part of the Columbia is for swimming. Riverkeeper is a strong proponent of playing in the river! We all have the right to swim, fish, kayak, windsurf, kiteboard, and boat on the Columbia. Unfortunately, in some stretches of the river, toxic pollution and unsafe bacteria levels make doing so unsafe. Much of the Columbia River is safe for swimming, but use caution.
Protect yourself on the water:
- Rinse off after swimming, and avoid entering the river with open cuts or wounds.
- Avoid industrial areas and discharge pipes.
- Check Swim Guide before swimming for current E. coli levels at popular recreation sites.
- Beware of fast currents and steep drop-offs. Know your limits, and swim close to shore.
Swim Guide provides:
Tools to locate the nearest spot to cool off on a hot day. Unique site descriptions and photographs. Data on E. coli levels and information about local beaches. Detailed walking, biking, or directions. Simple tools for reporting pollution problems and environmental concerns.
What is E.coli?
E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives in the lower intestines of warm-blooded mammals. E. coli belongs to a group of bacteria, some of which are harmful, known as fecal coliform. Its presence in rivers indicates fecal contamination. Common sources of E.coli include overflowing septic fields and sewage system, and fecal matter from wildlife and pets.
At what level does E. coli become a concern?
Oregon's water quality standard says that E. coli levels shall not exceed 406 colonies/100 mL. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had designated a federal standard that no single samples shall exceed 235 colonies/100 mL.
Why test for E. coli?
We conduct weekly E. coli testing on the Hood River at Tucker Bridge, and along the Columbia River at the Hood River Event Site, Hood River Waterfront Park, and the Inner Hook, to ensure the health and safety of river-users and a rapid response to E. coli contamination, if it should occur.