Public bathing beaches are regulated under Subpart 6-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code and are permitted and inspected by local health departments. There are also public bathing beaches operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Benefits of Swimming at a Regulated Beach

New York State Department of Health advises that everyone swim at a regulated beach:

  • Regulated beaches are regularly monitored for safety and health. These beaches are closed or have swimming advisories posted when the beach is unsafe.
  • Regulated beaches are required to provide bather supervision, which may include lifeguards, and lifesaving equipment.

If you choose to swim outside of a regulated beach, be aware of increased risks:

  • Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites are in all waters. These microorganisms may come from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), faulty septic systems, and animal waste.  After heavy rains, levels of fecal contamination can be higher in waters. Assume that all waters have fecal contamination even if you can’t see it.
  • Cloudy water is a safety hazard and may indicate poor water quality.
  • Open waters, such as lakes, rivers and oceans have currents, rocks, and uneven surfaces, which may be unfamiliar and pose hazards to swimmers.
  • Take extra precautions near any dams or large watercraft because they can create undertows and dangerous currents. Never cross safety wires and other water hazard markers when recreating near dams.

Protect Your Favorite Swimming Spot

  • Clean up after pets and properly dispose of their waste.
  • Do not feed waterfowl at the beach.
  • If you have a septic system, make sure it is properly functioning and maintained. Inappropriate connections, failing septic systems and leaking sewers can affect water quality at nearby beaches.

More Information

  • View coastal beach information. This site has water quality-related information for the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, and Great Lakes beaches.
  • Harmful algal blooms, also known as blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms that form dense blooms in waterbodies and can cause health effects to people and animals.
  • Swimmer’s Itch is caused by a parasite that lives in waterfowl and snails in natural waters.
  • Learn how to stay cool when it is hot outside, with Extreme Heat Advice.
  • The Department of Environmental Conservation’s swimming page contains information on swimming, sewage pollution, combined sewer overflows, harmful algal blooms, and more.
  • For more information on ocean rip currents, check out Rip Current Forecast: National Weather Service.
  • Beach information from EPA.