Disgusting, right? . Our collective voices are already making huge strides for local. Check out the Washington Post's interactive mapto view the deadly hazards that lurk in these waters. We've got a few tips on how you can fight these invaders and protect native fish. There are exceptions for those who operate a boat, canoe, or kayak and happen to fall in wearing a personal floatation device. 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. We used to have beaches on the Potomac and swimming used to be legal! Hiring an attorney is an important decision which should not be based solely on advertising. These pipes are in the process of getting fixed, but before they are, wait out the overflow aftermath. With water temperatures around 50°F, U.S. Marine Quinn Hurt braves the polluted, murky waters of the Potomac. Thus, in these Potomac River areas (which encompass most of the River between Great Falls and the Maryland/Washington, D.C. line), swimming and wading as a “recreational use” are prohibited. 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. 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. Technically it’s still illegal to swim in the Potomac from Georgetown. If you’re curious about a particular water hole or spot on the Potomac River, feel free to run your own test! Great Falls might be a no-brainer, but what about the calm water, nowhere near the falls, where it looks nice and flat? !” But those who monitor and patrol the river … "Is it safe to swim in the Potomac River?". 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. Is swimming illegal in the Potomac River? The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Longman & Van Grack regularly advises clients regarding sports and recreation legal issues within our Sports and Recreation Law Practice. 1 . That’s why the Potomac Riverkeeper has launched a Swimmable Potomac Campaign. But while you’re enjoying a fall breeze by the water, why not read a book that strengthens your connection with it? # swimmablepotomac # cleanwater # WaterIsLife # potomacriver # swimdrinkfish Loudoun developed a plan to "bank" wintertime flows in the Potomac River. 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. You will receive our next monthly River Update e-newsletter. For years it has been illegal to swim in the Potomac River in Washington, DC because high levels of bacteria sometimes make it unsafe. Vernon and the Federal City bearing his name just upstream, the Potomac’s first calling is its service as the southern headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay. Assuming you're at a stretch of river where it is legal to swim (always check! Is Swimming Illegal in the Potomac River? upstream of a line beginning at the base of Stubblefield Falls” and (b) between “100 yards above the crest of Dam No. WILD SWIMMING - THE LEGAL SIDE . The Coast Guard is proposing to establish special local regulations for certain waters of the Upper Potomac River. Bottom line: It is illegal to swim between Great Falls and the Maryland/DC line. In some other European countries, including Scotland and most of Scandinavia, there is an explicit (statutory) legal right to swim or navigate in all water bodies, related to the public rights to roam. 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. 128k members in the washingtondc community. Bacterial levels and current may create a safety concern, depending on time of year, weather, and other factors. We must eliminate DC's and Alexandra's combined sewage discharges and lift the swim ban that prohibits swimming in the Potomac River! 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). And, if so, do the laws contain any exceptions? except for the purpose of saving a drowning person, is prohibited.” (36 CFR 7.96(e)). 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). 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. Here’s how our team is getting outside and enjoying the river while social distancing…now tell us your story! 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. 15 of our favorite local date spots for the outdoor romantic, Watch: The Potomac River fuels Olympic dreams, Fighting the invaders: what you can do to combat invasive fish, Staff Picks: 6 Books to Read by the River. Bacteria is also a serious concern. Quiz: What's up with swimming in the Potomac River? . It's a common question we hear from concerned folks in the Washington, DC area. The annual Potomac River Swim for the Environment is growing in popularity as a distance swim event. Federal regulations do indeed specifically restrict swimming and wading in the Potomac River. CHECK BACK IN 2021 May 30, 2020 Thank you! Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. A subreddit for those living in and visiting Washington, DC and the immediate surrounding area. However, are these signs properly conveying the operative law in Maryland for the Potomac River? 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. Five years ago, we purchased White Horse Mountain in West Virginia to protect it from development. What is in the Potomac River’s water? 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). However, the Federal regulations also contemplate that boaters wearing PFDs might require specific regulations or laws that could conflict with CFR regulations. We don't spam or share your information. . 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). We’ll keep you updated on local river news, wildlife, and fun outdoor events. All Rights Reserved. When it rains, household sewage from Washington DC and Alexandria combines with polluted stormwater, discharging raw sewage, pet waste, road runoff, and other contaminants that foul the Potomac River. “The Potomac is a natural river to this day, which is unusual,” Peck says. Both organizations, Rock Creek Conservancy, and their volunteers conduct extensive hands-on activities to improve our rivers. The answer is - it is and it isn’t. How are you staying connected to nature this spring? 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! Trees and other large debris can lurk just below the water's surface and pose serious danger to those in the river. Additionally, as exactly anticipated by the CFR Exemption, the State of Maryland regulates activities regarding boating with a PFD. The Harpers Ferry vicinity up to Dam 5 west of Hagerstown supports the largest walleye population on the Potomac, and one of the best walleye fishing opportunities in the region. The short answer is: swimming and wading generally is illegal; however, if an individual is swimming or wading with a canoe/kayak/SUP and wearing a PFD, then their action is most likely legal. That sounds strange, but it’s time to clear up a few points and to provide tips to make your summer cool. We are utilizing the Virginia standards because they are more protective of public health for individuals swimming or otherwise in primary contact with the water than Maryland’s standards. “The Potomac especially is very deceptive, it has some spots that look very calm, very tranquil, look very easy to swim in,” he says. The quarry will serve as a reservoir, storing the water until it is needed during the summer. Plus find out how one organization is using their overabundance to do good. 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. It's a short drive from downtown DC and the perfect way to keep cool and relax on a summer's day. Is it safe to swim or boat in the Potomac? As summer heats up, here are our picks for safe, open, clean water spots in the Potomac River regions to cool off. When this occurs, runoff flows directly into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. 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. It is illegal to go swimming in the Great Falls area of the Potomac River, an area also known as Mather Gorge. But how can you take advantage of the winter outdoors without it feeling like a chore? Like … Fax: (301) 291-5028 Starting in Tenleytown, Foundry Branch goes through multiple DC neighborhoods before entering the Potomac River. After strong storms, drainage and sewage pipes in and around Washington, DC can overflow. Last year, the state of West Virginia officially opened it as a public recreation area. When will there be waterslides into the river??? Streamside Scavenger Hunt: Can you find these flowers? Check out the Washington Post's interactive map to view the deadly hazards that lurk in these waters. The river actually encompasses 383 miles, running from its source in the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains until it empties out into the Chesapeake Bay. A riverside scavenger hunt suitable for all ages! Discover how the Potomac has helped Emily, and what she hopes for its future. 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. 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. 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). “If it … 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 doesn’t work. © 2021, Potomac Conservancy, Silver Spring, MD. The … . Like … 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. “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? The COMAR specifically defines, “recreational use” as “activities on the Potomac River, including swimming, bathing, wading, diving, tubing, rafting, and other uses involving contact with the water.” (COMAR 08.06.01.02B(2)(a)). Consult Request. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. 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). . Glancing down, you see a plastic bag half buried in the sand. Don’t let the calm-looking water fool you! 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. 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. Kayak Photo credit © William MacFarland, courtesy of MacFarlandPhoto.net. Nearly every year, there are drowning accidents in this stretch of the river. Denis Crean swims in the Potomac River two times a week. Find out how in our visitor’s guide, including 6 adventure activities. He takes others in, too, to teach them techniques for traversing the open water. **WARNING: SWIMMING IS PROHIBITED IN D.C. But you look at the Potomac, and it has just two major dams, way up in the West Virginia highlands, and one levee, at Georgetown Harbour. The COMAR Exemption (“Boating” while wearing a “flotation device”). The “areas covered” by the CFR Restriction are the National Capital Region Parks. Ask the Expert: Is it safe to swim in the Potomac? Great Falls might be a no-brainer, but what about the calm water, nowhere near the falls, where it looks nice and flat? Phone: (301) 291-5027 For safety reasons, swimming in the Potomac is illegal between Great Falls and the southern Maryland/DC line. Nude swimming, or skinny dipping, is the practice of bathing naked, whether in natural bodies of water, in swimming pools, or in hot tubs.. Potomac River 7.5 Mile Swim CANCELLED IN 2020 DUE TO COVID-19. ), the weather is an important factor to consider before jumping in. Bethesda, MD 20817 “You look at other cities, and their rivers are full of dams and levees. However, swimming or wading in any section of the Potomac River is not illegal when the individual (1) is “wearing” a PFD while involved with a “vessel” and (2) is “associated with a vessel” (vessel includes kayaks, canoes, and multiple-chambered rafts). If you're boating and wearing a personal flotation device and you happen to fall in, that is not illegal. It is illegal to go swimming in the Great Falls area of the Potomac River, an area also known as Mather Gorge. The right to swim is a complex issue which, in many cases, is undetermined. 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 . Who needs a pool when we live by the water? Suite 750 #6E Nearly every year, there are drowning accidents in this stretch of the river. These 10 Potomac River fishing hotspots should enter into every angler's calculations. 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