To Swim or not to Swim

I spent 18 years of my life avoiding the river that cut through my backyard, because word on the street was… it was gross.

One of my biggest regrets in life is not asking anyone where the data was to back that accusation up.

Before 2015, several families in the Coosa Valley were hearing the same thing about their river. We were getting constant phone calls & emails asking if it was safe to swim in the Coosa River- and we didn’t have a straight answer. After awhile, it became pretty clear that the lack of water quality information on the Coosa or any freshwater swimming hole in Alabama needed to be addressed- and the only way it could be was through regular water quality monitoring.

As the summer of 2019 comes to a close- so does our fifth season of Swim Guide (a recreational bacteria monitoring program on popular swimming holes along the Coosa).

Since 2015, we have taken almost 2,000 samples, issued almost 200 “unsafe to swim” alerts & have reached over 1 million social media accounts with our data.

But we didn’t do it alone. Just like a river, Swim Guide takes an active & engaged network to flow just right. We are so grateful for the river loving community that follows & supports our weekly Swim Guide data. Our Swim Guide spending makes up about 40% of our TOTAL organizational budget. After all the lab consumables, mileage reimbursement & enhanced staff time, the dollars really add up.

The foundations, businesses, individuals & interns that believe in our data and YOUR right to know what you’re swimming in have fueled our ability to make waves each summer.

Because no one should let their whole life pass by with a beautiful river in the backyard without ever splashing in it.

Here are just a few key components of our Swim Guide Network:


Our individual sponsorship campaign has helped us raise $900 to support Swim Guide sampling!


Behind every data point is a college intern! Thanks to these wonderful men & women who dedicate their time to clean water!

We are so grateful for a successful FIFTH season and can’t wait to do it again next year.

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