Swim Guide

Thursday, October 4th:

Low Bacteria Levels at ALL ADEM SaMPLED Sites


Mobile Baykeeper Swim Guide Sites

Swim Guide allows visitors to Alabama’s beaches to know at a glance which areas are safe for swimming (Green) and which are unsafe (Red) in real time using water quality testing results from Alabama’s state agencies. The sites are tested by ADEM and ADPH throughout the summer.

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Magnolia Springs - Devil's Hole Water Quality Update

Mobile Baykeeper's test results from Thursday, September 27 indicate bacteria levels below the EPA safe limit (63 CFU/100 mL) for swimming. Special thanks to the Town of Magnolia Springs for their support of the SWIM Program as a sponsor.

Fairhope - Battles Wharf (Moog Lane) water Quality Update

Mobile Baykeeper's test results from Thursday, September 27 indicate bacteria levels above the EPA safe limit (464 CFU/100mL) for swimming.  Special thanks to the families who made this SWIM site possible as sponsors!

Fairhope - Point Clear (Zundel Road) Water Quality Update

Mobile Baykeeper's test results from Thursday, September 27 indicate bacteria levels below the EPA safe limit (31 CFU/100 mL) for swimming.  Special thanks to the families who made this SWIM site possible as sponsors! 

***Heavy rains may impact water quality. Please use caution immediately after rainstorms as sewer overflows, failing septic, and stormwater runoff can contain high levels of bacteria.

For more details on how the testing is conducted and historical data please visit the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's Beach Monitoring Program website.

**These tests do not indicate the presence of Vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria that naturally occurs in warm, brackish waters. Our "safe" level refers to the level of Enterococci, a bacteria that indicates fecal contamination. Please be advised that other threats may exist and avoid entering the water with open wounds.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. All sites monitored are natural waterbodies and contaminants are present from a wide variety of sources! Local conditions fluctuate, sometimes dramatically, and especially after rainfall events. The results displayed above are only representative of the exact time, date and location at which the sample was taken and do not represent the water quality between sampling events or at other locations nearby on the river. Users of this data should not assume that a “low” Enterococci level means that it is necessarily safe or risk-free to make contact with the water. Enterococci is not the only contaminant of concern for recreational users, and is used merely as an indicator of potential fecal contamination. Mobile Baykeeper, Inc., their employees, and agents can provide no guarantee of water safety and, as such, the user assumes all risks associated with the use of this data and swimming in the associated areas. SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK!

What do the colors mean? 

When we have current results you'll see one of two symbols.

  • Green = Safe for swimming. This means the beach's most recent test results met water quality standards.

  • Red = Unsafe for swimming. Recent test results indicate higher bacteria levels than what is considered safe for swimming.

  • Grey = No current data. Grey means water quality information for the beach is too old (more than 7 days old) to be considered current, or that info is unavailable, or unreliable.

When swimming season is over or when a beach's water quality data has not been updated within the last 7 days it goes into historical status. This means that rather than displaying current data it displays the beach's average water quality for that year.

  • Green = the site has passed water quality tests 95% of the time or more.

  • Yellow = Beach has passed water quality tests 60-95% of the time

  • Red = the site has failed water quality tests 40% or more of the time.

How does it work?

Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) & Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) collect water samples from 25 high-use swimming areas in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Water samples are analyzed for the bacteria Enterococci, which often occurs in the presence of potential human pathogens (things that make you sick!). If testing shows high levels of bacteria, the site is re-tested the following day. When elevated bacteria levels remain, ADPH issues a public health advisory. Mobile Baykeeper posts these results to Swim Guide, giving easy-to-identify results in real time.

The safe level for swimming is determined by the EPA to be 104 colony forming units (CFU) of Enterococci (a bacteria that indicates fecal contamination)/100 mL of water. At this level it is estimated that approximately 3% (32/1000) of healthy adult swimmers will contract a waterborne illness. These rates may be higher for children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems.

Bacteria levels can change quickly depending on tides, rain, and other factors. We recommend that individuals always take appropriate precautions when swimming. Those precautions include not exposing open wounds to the water and washing thoroughly after leaving the water. Bacteriological testing requires a 24-hour incubation period. Therefore, the reported water quality statuses are at least 24 hours old, and may not reflect current water quality conditions at these sites. If rain has occurred in the last 24 hours it is likely bacteria levels have increased and sometimes drastically.

Download The App

What If I don't have a Smart Phone?

Program Coordinator Laura Jackson tests bacteria levels of a local creek.

No problem! For those without a “smart phone” to download the app, the information is also accessible by visiting the Swim Guide website at www.theSwimGuide.org or through the display above.  

Did You Know? 

Funding for the program that allows ADEM and ADPH to test beaches to see if they are safe to swim is proposed to be zeroed out in the 2018 federal budget. Let your elected officials know that the Beach testing program is important to you!


Special Thanks to both Legacy Partners in Environmental Education and Daniel Foundation of Alabama for funding Mobile Baykeeper's work on Swim Guide and supporting our work for clean water, clean air, and healthy communities.

More questions? Contact Program Coordinator Laura Jackson at ljackson@mobilebaykeeper.org to learn more about this program.