Beach season is upon us, but is the water at your local beach safe? You can find out with the click of a button through the newly updated Swim Guide app from the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The free app contains detailed information about more than 5,000 beaches in North America, more than three times as many that were available in the first version of the app, which launched last summer. It is available for both iPhones and Android devices, as well as online at theswimguide.org.
The app is remarkably user-friendly. It automatically shows you the beaches closest to your current location, or you can search by beach name or area. The list of beaches displays green, yellow and red swimming icons, indicating if the water is safe or possibly toxic. More detailed information about each beach presents its history, indicating how many days in the past year the waters were safe for swimming. Users can also upload their own photos of the beach or scroll through photos uploaded by other people.
The app also lets users report any pollution they observe, helping to keep the information fresh and up to date. More than 200 local riverkeeper and coastal organizations throughout the country also update the app with current conditions and historical information.
According to the Waterkeeper Alliance, millions of people in North America get sick from swimming in polluted waters every year, something this app hopes to help prevent. They also hope to use the app as a way to encourage discussion about clean water. "An informed public is the foundation stone of a functioning democracy by making water quality data easily available," the organization's president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., said in a news release. "This app will promote healthy public debate about the costs of pollution to our communities."
You can get a closer view of the app in this video endorsement from "Criminal Minds" stars A.J. Cook and Matthew Gray Gubler: