Swimmable Waters Project

We have received funds from The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Health and The Environmental Giving Circle to conduct water sampling at popular swimming locations during Summer 2014.  We’re calling this our Swimmable Waters project, and we’ll be sampling in areas with high levels of contact recreation (swimming, wading, paddling) monthly from May through September for E. coli bacteria. The data we gather will be available on the Waterkeeper Swim Guide www.theswimguide.org to help people make informed decisions about where to safely recreate during the summer.


Thanks to our members and supporters who helped us to identify great swim holes!  Sampling started in May and will continue monthly through September, 2014. We’re awaiting results from our first round of sampling— information should be available soon on The Swim Guide!

What is E. coli?

Escherichia coli (commonly abbreviated E. coli) is a rod-shaped bacterium commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms including humans and animals. There are hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli, however, one particular strain, O157:H7, is an emerging cause of foodborne and waterborne illness. Beaches and other designated swimming locations are tested regularly, but swimmers in non-designated areas (swimming holes, locations along the river) swim at their own risk.

Where did you suggest we sample?

Sites all along the Yough were popular suggestions, and we’re sampling several locations along the main stem from Confluence downstream to McKeesport.  The water slides on Meadow Run, 2 Blue Hole’s (Morgan Run in Fayette County and Blue Hole Creek in Somerset County) as well as Indian Creek near White’s Bridge and Hutchy Beach on Sewickley Creek.  We’re grateful for your feedback and we’ll report back soon!