We may have just experienced the wettest and coldest May since 1948, but eventually summer will get here, and as the days get hotter we’ll want to head to the beaches to cool off. Living in Western Washington we have plenty to choose from.
But, where is it safe to swim? What beaches have lifeguards? Are there algae or bacterial outbreaks? Can you get swimmer’s itch at your favorite beach?
Seattle Parks & Recreation recently announced the closure of three beaches for the summer of 2022. East Green Lake Beach, Mathews Beach, and Seward Park Beach will be closed due to lifeguard staffing shortages. But, even when Matthews Beach is open for the season, it has frequent temporary closures because of water quality issues.
Six beaches remain open in 2022: Madison, Madrona, Magnuson, Mt. Baker, Pritchard, and West Green Lake.
So, what about beaches outside of Seattle? The fastest way to learn the status of swimming beaches in King County is to check the Lake Swimming Beach Bacteria webpage. The page includes an interactive map of all the beaches located on lakes in King County, with color coding for their status.
The webpage also includes a list of beaches, and you can click on a link to see a detailed status page for each beach. Water quality can change quickly when air and water temperatures rise, so it’s a good idea to check every time you make plans to head for a beach. For instance, Matthews Beach, noted above, already has a Moderate Concern level for bacteria, even though temperatures are low. That’s still safe for swimming, according to authorities, but it’s likely that when things heat up the level will rise to High Concern.
The site also lists beach closures. Currently, Hidden Lake in Shoreline is closed.
Outside of King County, contact your local public health office to check the status of your favorite swimming hole. For example, the Kitsap Public Health District has a page listing advisories and notices for monitored water bodies.
The Washington State Department of Ecology provides statewide data on toxic algae blooms in lakes all over the state. This link will take you to an interactive map of all monitored lakes in Washington. Zoom in and click on the dot for the lake you’re interested in. Toxic algae blooms are dangerous for both people and pets.