RiverCast forecasts the health of the water based upon historical relationships between water quality, stream flow, and rainfall data, which collectively predict potential levels of pathogens in the Schuylkill River between Flat Rock Dam and Fairmount Dam (i.e., between Manayunk and Boathouse Row). This data is analyzed to identify flow, rainfall and turbidity conditions that correspond to bacteria levels defined by the federal regulations for recreational waters. RiverCast identifies the maximum level of bacteria measured in a single sample that would be within acceptable illness levels for recreational activities involving direct or indirect contact with the water.
Water Quality Designations
The RiverCast Water Quality Designations - classified by color - provide recommendations about the suitability of the river for various recreational activities based on predicted levels of bacteria in the river at a given time, as follows:
- GREEN - Predicted bacteria levels are low; water quality is suitable for all activities
- YELLOW - Predicted bacteria levels are elevated; water quality may not be suitable for all activities
- RED - Predicted bacteria levels are high; water quality may not be suitable for most activities
The suitability of the water depends on the type of recreational activity and the extent of contact with the water. Direct contact recreation is also called "primary" contact recreation by state and federal authorities. Primary contact recreation includes any activity that is likely to cause immersion in the water and includes jet skiing, swimming, kayaking, wading, and water skiing. Secondary contact recreation is not likely to cause immersion in the water and is therefore less impacted by changes in water quality. Secondary contact includes but is not limited to rowing, power boating, and fishing.
RiverCast should be considered a guideline and general estimate of water quality at a given period of time and not a direct measurement of water quality. Other information, policies, regulations, public health statements, data, or observations should be considered in addition to RiverCast before any individual or organizational river recreation occurs. The RiverCast does not endorse or permit activities that are in violation of any City, State, or Federal policies, regulations and laws.