Swimming not recommended in Chesapeake Bay for 48 hours after a heavy rain

Posted at 6:26 PM, May 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-29 18:26:11-04

Chesapeake Bay - As the weather warms up and people start flocking to the bay for a dip in the water, be on the lookout for potential advisories and signs -- especially after it rains.

This morning, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tweeted this message:

"Health departments caution people to stay out of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries for at least 48 hours following a heavy rain."

That's right -- 48 hours! That means no swimming in the bay for two days. that true?

Well, NewsChannel 3 took action and went to the Norfolk's Department of Public Health to find out.

"We recommend not to swim 48 hours after a heavy rain."

Brian Knight, Environmental Health Supervisor, says after a heavy rain, bacteria levels often go up. That's when he and his team issue swimming advisories, putting up signs to alert people not to swim.

"When there's a lot of rain, a lot of bad weather, we have storm drains that people see in their neighborhoods. Well, that water from that storm drain drains out into the bay," he says.

And what's potentially lurking in that water could make you sick.

"Because not only do people's dog feces or anything else, but chemicals from lawns and stuff like that also could potentially run off into the bay," Knight says.

Last year, Hampton Roads saw a number of swimming advisories. So far, this year, it's only been just a few.

With beach season just getting started, Knight says there's no way to predict what water quality levels will be through the summer. He just knows the levels often go up after a heavy rain. He says you should stay away from the water until notified to go back in.

"Potentially a boat could or a ship could have an illegal sewage spill into the water. Or a water treatment plant could have a spill that could go into the water. So we can't really predict the weather, either," he says.