Advice About Swimming in the Hudson River During Dredging

People should not swim near Hudson River dredging operations and avoid areas with project-related vessels and boat traffic. The New York State Department of Health always advises that people swim at a regulated beach whenever possible because these are monitored for safety and health and are posted for closures or swimming advisories. People who choose to swim in the Hudson can help protect their health and safety by following the advice below.

picture of dredging

Don't Swim in Active Dredge Areas

Avoid swimming near or immediately downstream of any active dredging and project-related vessels on the river. People shouldn't swim, boat or recreate in these areas because of safety concerns from boat traffic and operating equipment. PCB levels in the river water might also be higher when dredging and debris removal equipment are operating in these areas.

Dredging is occurring in targeted areas on the river between the Thompson Island Dam near Fort Miller and Troy. These areas can be identified by the large vessels and equipment used. You can find general information about work areas at hudsondredgingdata.com and details about where operations are underway at nyscanals.gov.

Avoid Vessel Traffic Areas

As dredging continues, large vessels will be moving between the dredge areas and the sediment processing site in Fort Edward, north of Lock 7. Avoid swimming, boating and recreating near project-related traffic because visibility, water turbulence and other issues present significant safety concerns.

General Swimming Advice

The New York State Department of Health advises that people swim at a regulated beach. However, this general advice is provided for people who choose to go in the water outside of regulated beaches:

  • Don't swallow water and consider keeping your face and head out of the water when swimming. This reduces exposure to bacteria, parasites, blue-green algae and other microorganisms that might make people sick by entering the body by swallowing, and through eyes, ears and nose.
  • Avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water as it may contain more microorganisms and affect a person's ability to see underwater hazards.
  • Wash your hands after swimming, especially before eating, and shower when you are done swimming for the day to wash off river water and dirt.
  • 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.

Following these recommendations can help to reduce your exposure to microorganisms, chemicals and hazards while in the water.

Additional Information for Boaters and Jet Skiers

Recreational boaters should avoid activities near dredge and project-related operations due to equipment and safety concerns. General Electric provides information for boaters who plan to travel near dredge operations or who use the Champlain Canal at hudsondredging.com. This site provides information about where dredge operations are occurring, safety tips, rules and regulations, and relevant contact information.

The New York State Canal Corporation publishes Notices to Mariners to alert boaters of changes in operations or other issues. These notices can be viewed at nyscanals.gov.

The US Environmental Protection Agency also provides project information and water quality monitoring data at hudsondredgingdata.com.

About PCBs in the Hudson

Before dredging began, PCBs were present at low levels in the Hudson River water. During dredging, PCB levels increase in the river water near dredge operations and downstream. The Lower Hudson River, south of Albany, has shown no significant increase in PCB concentrations during dredging.

General Electric is required to achieve water quality standards developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to control resuspension of PCBs in river water during dredging. The control level for PCBs in river water is 500 parts per trillion, which is equal to the public drinking water standard for PCBs. If PCB levels exceed this control level at one of the designated monitoring locations, operations will be evaluated and may be modified to control resuspension and to protect water quality. This standard for PCBs was designed to protect public water supplies that rely on Hudson River water, but also provides protection for others that use the river, including swimmers.

Questions or concerns?

Call the State Health Department at 518-402-7860 or 800-458-1158.

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