Stay Safe on the Columbia

As the warm weather continues to invite recreational opportunities, be sure to check the water quality along the Columbia with Swim Guide

As warm temperatures continue into September and the ongoing pandemic limits indoor options, we’re exceedingly thankful for access to the outdoors. The Columbia River offers countless opportunities for recreation, but it’s important to remember how to enjoy the river safely. 

While much of the Columbia River is safe for swimming, unfortunately, in some stretches toxic pollution and unsafe bacteria levels can make swimming risky. Water quality conditions are dynamic which is why regular monitoring is part of our protocol to ensure the health and safety of river-users as well a rapid response to contamination, should it occur. 

This summer COVID-19 has sent more people outdoors, which means an increased activity on beaches and trails. Some parks and recreation sites experienced unprecedented numbers of visitors. Think holiday weekend crowding, only all the time. In fact, crowding at the Hood River waterfront caused the Port of Hood River to issue closures and use restrictions. This increased activity can lead to additional accidents (and rescues), damage to the environment, and increased garbage. The Columbia River is a great resource for outdoor recreation, but it’s important to remain safe to protect ourselves and the river. Use caution and follow these tips when you enjoy the river!

Protect yourself on the water:

  • Follow OR and WA state guidelines and wear a mask when 6-foot social distance cannot be maintained. 
  • Avoid crowded beaches.
  • 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.
  • Pack out your garbage.
  • Report hazardous waste and illegal dumping