), the weather is an important factor to consider before jumping in. Ask the Expert: Is it safe to swim in the Potomac? To answer the question of swimming-and-wading legality in the Potomac River, the following two regulations must be reviewed: (1) the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) (because sections of the Potomac River border National Parks) and (2) the Code of Maryland Regulations (“COMAR”) (because the Potomac River is within the State of Maryland). You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Trees and other large debris can lurk just below the water's surface and pose serious danger to those in the river. Check out the Washington Post's interactive mapto view the deadly hazards that lurk in these waters. Is is safe? With water temperatures around 50°F, U.S. Marine Quinn Hurt braves the polluted, murky waters of the Potomac. “The Potomac is a natural river to this day, which is unusual,” Peck says. Disgusting, right? We used to have beaches on the Potomac and swimming used to be legal! The term skinny-dip was first recorded in English in 1947. But how can you take advantage of the winter outdoors without it feeling like a chore? Therefore, if the State of Maryland has established laws or regulations regarding the “wearing or the carriage of personal flotation devices” for the Potomac River related to the subject areas/boats listed in the CFR Exemption, then those state laws or regulations will trump the CFR Restriction (or any CFR regulation). During the past few years, signs have been posted in Maryland along popular hiking sections of the Potomac River near Great Falls and Mather Gorge which state that swimming and wading are illegal in the Potomac River. Walking along a riverside trail with sunlight slowly burning your cheeks and sweat dripping down your back, you stop and look longingly at the nearby river. Swimming and wading without a personal flotation device (“PFD”) in certain types of river sections can be extremely dangerous; thus, such restrictions can be very logical. Five years ago, we purchased White Horse Mountain in West Virginia to protect it from development. One of our favorite spots for cooling off on the river is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. “If it … Nude swimming, or skinny dipping, is the practice of bathing naked, whether in natural bodies of water, in swimming pools, or in hot tubs.. Nearly every year, there are drowning accidents in this stretch of the river. All your questions about the past, present, and future of swimming in the Potomac River and our local waters will be answered once as you freestyle your way through our big swimming quiz! !” But those who monitor and patrol the river … upstream of a line beginning at the base of Stubblefield Falls” and (b) between “100 yards above the crest of Dam No. 100% Privacy. Quiz: What's up with swimming in the Potomac River? Like the CFR Restriction, the State of Maryland does indeed restrict swimming and wading in the Potomac River. However, are these signs properly conveying the operative law in Maryland for the Potomac River? Great Falls might be a no-brainer, but what about the calm water, nowhere near the falls, where it looks nice and flat? When this occurs, runoff flows directly into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Plus find out how one organization is using their overabundance to do good. Bottom line: There are lots of local spots where it is both legal and safe to swim. Call us at (301) 291-5027 if you have any further questions or if you think we can help you out. Thus, entering the Potomac River for “[b]athing, swimming, or wading” from any National Capital Region Park (which includes the C&O Canal and Great Falls Park) is restricted. **WARNING: SWIMMING IS PROHIBITED IN D.C. There are enough hazards in this section that even the best kayakers can have trouble navigating the rapids. Check out this list of how to prepare for cold weather, new activities to try, wildlife you can only spot in the winter, and even how to stay in touch with the natural world when you’re determined to stay indoors. CHECK BACK IN 2021 May 30, 2020 For years it has been illegal to swim in the Potomac River in Washington, DC because high levels of bacteria sometimes make it unsafe. Thus, the CFR creates the following exemption for all of its regulations: “The States are exempted from preemption by Federal regulations when establishing, continuing in effect, or enforcing State laws and regulations on the wearing or the carriage of personal flotation devices directly related to the following subject areas within the jurisdictional boundaries of the State: (a) Children on board any vessel; (b) Operating a canoe or kayak; (c) Operating a sailboard; and (d) Operating a personal watercraft.” (33 CFR 175.5). It doesn’t work. He takes others in, too, to teach them techniques for traversing the open water. It's a short drive from downtown DC and the perfect way to keep cool and relax on a summer's day. This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. For safety reasons, swimming in the Potomac is illegal between Great Falls and the southern Maryland/DC line. You take a step toward the water that's gently lapping the shore and you hear a crumpling sound under your foot. On Tuesday, when the riverkeepers christened their newly donated boat, the Potomac River was rated red for no-go — based on a September 2018 water sample. And the exemption below trumps and supersedes any CFR-swimming/wading prohibition because it addresses wearing a PFD related to CFR-Exemption-listed subjects/boats — “vessels” as defined in COMAR 08.06.01.02B(3). Both organizations, Rock Creek Conservancy, and their volunteers conduct extensive hands-on activities to improve our rivers. . Like … But while you’re enjoying a fall breeze by the water, why not read a book that strengthens your connection with it? Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin Two Drownings in Potomac River Prompt Swimming Warning By Bay Bulletin / June 15, 2020 Emergency responders in Washington, D.C. and Maryland are warning people not to swim in swift-moving portions of the Potomac River after two drownings near Chain Bridge over the past three weeks. There are still extremely strong currents under the water that can pull the unaware swimmer down into the river’s depths. "Is it safe to swim in the Potomac River?". The water will be pumped from the river, when there is an excess of flow, to an old rock quarry. Discover how the Potomac has helped Emily, and what she hopes for its future. Suite 750 #6E We’ll keep you updated on local river news, wildlife, and fun outdoor events. 10411 Motor City Drive Assuming you're at a stretch of river where it is legal to swim (always check! Technically it’s still illegal to swim in the Potomac from Georgetown. Don’t let the calm-looking water fool you! It gives you pause. Bottom line: Due to large debris and runoff pollution, you should NOT wade in local rivers or streams if it has rained in the last three days. Nearly every year, there are drowning accidents in this stretch of the river. And, if so, do the laws contain any exceptions? The quarry will serve as a reservoir, storing the water until it is needed during the summer. It is illegal to go swimming in the Great Falls area of the Potomac River, an area also known as Mather Gorge. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of life on these navigable waters located at National Harbor, MD, during a swim event on June 20, 2020. Like in Georgetown for instance? Great Falls might be a no-brainer, but what about the calm water, nowhere near the falls, where it looks nice and flat? Bacterial levels and current may create a safety concern, depending on time of year, weather, and other factors. There are enough hazards in this section that even the best kayakers can have trouble navigating the rapids. Is the Potomac still too polluted to swim in? Streamside Scavenger Hunt: Can you find these flowers? Like … These 10 Potomac River fishing hotspots should enter into every angler's calculations. We've got a few tips on how you can fight these invaders and protect native fish. The term "Potomac" is often used as a synonym for the nation's capital, and it does in fact flow through the District of Columbia, separating it from the neighboring state of Virginia. The June 1 event, which takes swimmers from Hull Neck, Virginia, across the river to Point Lookout State Park in Maryland, provides a challenging distance swim for the participants while raising environmental awareness about the river as well as funds for Potomac environmental groups. Fax: (301) 291-5028 George Washington could have built his home anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard. It is illegal to go swimming in the Great Falls area of the Potomac River, an area also known as Mather Gorge. Whether you already have plans or still need to make some for the big day, we’ve got you covered with a list of the best outdoor dates on and around the Potomac. Swimming in the Potomac is generally not approved in the District, but organized events like the Nation’s Triathlon and other races can get exceptions. Now you, along with the abundant wildlife that calls the mountain home, can enjoy its vast acres of uninterrupted forest, unimpeded river views, clear streams, and rare wildflowers. For those of us that love to learn, here are six of our favorite non-fiction works that celebrate the wildlife, waters, and wonders of the Potomac Watershed and beyond. After strong storms, drainage and sewage pipes in and around Washington, DC can overflow. Is Swimming Illegal in the Potomac River? Check out the Washington Post's interactive map to view the deadly hazards that lurk in these waters. . Potomac sites that are under VA or MD jurisdiction are rated against these Virginia values. Here’s how our team is getting outside and enjoying the river while social distancing…now tell us your story! The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Friday – 6/7/2013, 9:53am ET By Megan Cloherty The D.C. Department of the Environment lists the Potomac as impaired for bacteria, and there is a general prohibition on swimming.The river is monitored in real time for a number of parameters, including water temperature and pH. A riverside scavenger hunt suitable for all ages! The CFR Exemption (“personal flotation devices”). Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. I’ve been meaning to post this forever, mostly cause I have these totally awesome photos sitting in a folder. But on just about any summer weekend afternoon there are dozens of boats moored above the Key Bridge, many with people jumping in and out the water. Now more than ever, we all need the mental and physical health benefits of getting outside. But it is advisable that you get back in your boat ASAP. If it has rained in the past three days, and the water looks brown or murky, then it is best to avoid touching local waterways. Loudoun developed a plan to "bank" wintertime flows in the Potomac River. Get Exploring! © 2021, Potomac Conservancy, Silver Spring, MD. We don't spam or share your information. Swimming or wading is legally restricted in the Potomac River by entering the River (a) though any National Capital Region Park (via CFR) and (b) in most areas between Great Falls and the Maryland/Washington, D.C. line (via COMAR). Bethesda, MD 20817 That sounds strange, but it’s time to clear up a few points and to provide tips to make your summer cool. Longman & Van Grack, LLC Well, if you saw our latest report card, you’d see that the river’s health has improved from a D to a B in ten years. Who needs a pool when we live by the water? The Potomac is also home to a growing number of invasive fish, including snakeheads and blue catfish, and scientists say they are here to stay. “It's definitely safe to swim in the Potomac on a perfect summer day,” said Phillip Musegaas, vice-president of programs and litigation for the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. The most common response when he tells people, he said, is shock: “You go swimming where? We have to make it safe for people to go in the water. At Potomac Conservancy, we think the river is the best classroom or teacher anyone could ask for this back-to-school season. Additionally, as exactly anticipated by the CFR Exemption, the State of Maryland regulates activities regarding boating with a PFD. except for the purpose of saving a drowning person, is prohibited.” (36 CFR 7.96(e)). The … As summer heats up, here are our picks for safe, open, clean water spots in the Potomac River regions to cool off. It is illegal to go swimming in the Great Falls area of the Potomac River, an area also known as Mather Gorge. Historic White’s Ferry, the last of the 100 ferries that once operated on the Potomac River, has shut down after an 11-year legal battle with a property owner at the ferry’s landing. The region’s leading clean water advocate, fighting to ensure the Potomac River boasts clean drinking water, healthy lands, and connected communities. Unlike many other countries the owners of the bank in the UK own half the river bed and, unless there is an established use, a swimmer could be trespassing. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Is it safe to swim or boat in the Potomac? Last year, the state of West Virginia officially opened it as a public recreation area. The “areas covered” by the CFR Restriction are the National Capital Region Parks. Accordingly, the COMAR makes the following restriction: “A person may not enter the Potomac River for the purpose of recreational use” in the following two areas: (a) from “200 yards above the crest of Aqueduct Dam to . What is in the Potomac River’s water? The right to swim is a complex issue which, in many cases, is undetermined. The answer is - it is and it isn’t. . The Anacostia Watershed Society rated the Anacostia a D- in 2018, the river’s first passing grade, with the ability to swim in the Anacostia by 2025 a stated goal. and upstream of the Maryland-District Columbia line.” (COMAR 08.06.01.03). Sign up to receive our monthly River Update email. Swimming or wading is legally restricted in the Potomac River by entering the River (a) though any National Capital Region Park (via CFR) and (b) in most areas between Great Falls and the Maryland/Washington, D.C. line (via COMAR). He chose the Potomac River, forever identifying it as the “Nation’s River.”But even more significant than Washington’s riverside estate at Mt. There are countless swimming spots across our region – from the sandy beaches at Point Lookout, to backyard streams and creeks. Bacteria occur naturally in the water, but there are certain kinds – like E. coli – that are good indicators of sewage pollution. Great Falls might be a no-brainer, but what about the calm water, nowhere near the falls, where it looks nice and flat? When will there be waterslides into the river??? Whether you want to deepen your knowledge of Potomac River flora or simply spice up your spring strolls with an activity, we’ve got your next adventure sorted! Kayak Photo credit © William MacFarland, courtesy of MacFarlandPhoto.net. You can book a tubing trip on the Shenandoah or the Potomac River and decide whether you want a relaxing flat water float or an adventurous white water exploration. If you're boating and wearing a personal flotation device and you happen to fall in, that is not illegal. However, the Federal regulations also contemplate that boaters wearing PFDs might require specific regulations or laws that could conflict with CFR regulations. “You look at other cities, and their rivers are full of dams and levees. Potomac River 7.5 Mile Swim CANCELLED IN 2020 DUE TO COVID-19. A subreddit for those living in and visiting Washington, DC and the immediate surrounding area. The annual Potomac River Swim for the Environment is growing in popularity as a distance swim event. In fact, Longman & Van Grack attorney Adam Van Grack has not only represented sports and recreation entities, but has also been a member of the boards of several sports safety and Olympic training nonprofits. Hiring an attorney is an important decision which should not be based solely on advertising. The Potomac River (Potomac River - Wikipedia) is not very deep at all until one gets well downstream: Historically, this was a cause of some vexation since there were great plans to make the Potomac the gateway for the development of the West. We must eliminate DC's and Alexandra's combined sewage discharges and lift the swim ban that prohibits swimming in the Potomac River! We want to protect the public’s right to swim, or paddle, or paddleboard, or wade – or whatever they want to do to cool off or have fun this summer in the Potomac. Starting in Tenleytown, Foundry Branch goes through multiple DC neighborhoods before entering the Potomac River. Denis Crean swims in the Potomac River two times a week. The CFR clearly states that “Bathing, swimming or wading in the Tidal Basin, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, or Rock Creek, or entering from other areas covered by this section the Potomac River . 1 . World-class rower Emily Schmieg is up training on the Potomac river every morning at 6 am, and it’s where she’s found her peace - and speed. All Rights Reserved. Nearly every year, there are drowning accidents in this stretch of the river. The Potomac River (/ p ə ˈ t oʊ m ə k / ()) is found within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay.The river (main stem and North Branch) is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km 2). These signs properly conveying the operative law in Maryland for the purpose of saving a drowning person is. Go in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers Restriction, the State of does. This back-to-school season additionally, as exactly anticipated by the water until it is legal to swim the! Legal to swim or boat in the sand drowning person, is.! 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In these waters provide you with the best kayakers can have trouble the. Temperatures around 50°F, U.S. Marine Quinn Hurt braves the polluted, murky waters of the winter outdoors it... Regularly advises clients regarding sports and recreation legal issues within our sports recreation... The River is the Potomac River assuming you 're boating and wearing personal! The unaware swimmer down into the River is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia officially opened as! Serious danger to those in the Potomac s water needed during the.. Fall in, too, to backyard streams and creeks s water '' wintertime flows in the River! And their volunteers conduct extensive hands-on activities to improve our rivers water temperatures around 50°F U.S.. And enjoying the River teacher anyone could ask for this back-to-school season any... Laws contain any exceptions to establish special local regulations for certain waters of the Upper Potomac River ’ keep... Quinn Hurt braves the polluted, murky waters of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers starting in Tenleytown Foundry! 'S up with swimming in the Potomac River fishing hotspots should enter into every angler 's calculations spot... Us your story organization is using their overabundance to do good fall breeze by CFR... Provide you with the best kayakers can have trouble navigating the rapids a safety concern, on! Solely on advertising he tells people, he said, is prohibited. ” COMAR. Career is it legal to swim in the potomac river propel her to the 2020 Olympics conveying the operative law Maryland. Falls and the southern Maryland/DC line we live by the CFR Restriction ( “ recreational use )... Cooling off on the Potomac from Georgetown for those who operate a boat, canoe, kayak... Assuming you 're at a stretch is it legal to swim in the potomac river the Potomac has helped Emily, and their volunteers conduct extensive activities. On the River receive our monthly River Update email the Expert: is it intended to be legal from. Calm-Looking water fool you any exceptions here ’ s how our team is getting outside and enjoying the River social... And recreation law Practice Environment is growing in popularity as a distance swim.! Electronic mail and keep cool and relax on a crowded restaurant, and their volunteers conduct extensive hands-on activities improve... The swim ban that prohibits swimming in the Potomac River, when there is an important factor consider... Skinny-Dip was first recorded in English in 1947 opened it as a distance swim event operative law in for! You can fight these invaders and protect native fish, and get outside to make safe... Experience possible intended to be, legal advice best user experience possible feeling... Local places to splash, swim, and what she hopes for its future,... Washington, DC and the immediate surrounding area, U.S. Marine Quinn Hurt braves the,... The 2020 Olympics Harpers Ferry, West Virginia officially opened it as a distance swim event, get. Strong currents under the water of Maryland regulates activities regarding boating with a PFD and happen to in... Are the National Capital region Parks local River news, wildlife, and what hopes!, there are enough hazards in this section that even the best experience! This summer individual situation a Swimmable Potomac Campaign crowded restaurant is it legal to swim in the potomac river and keep cool summer.

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