Recreational Water

Recreational Water

people swimming and boating at a state park

Vermont is home to thousands of freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Our waters are a great destination for everything from swimming and fishing to boating and tubing. We all have a role to play in keeping our recreational waters a safe and healthy place for everyone.

Healthy Recreational Waters Guidance

The Health Department, along with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, provides guidance to the managers and users of Vermont’s recreational lakes, ponds, streams and rivers.

Healthy Recreational Waters Guidance

swim water testing

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Swimming in these waters may result in health effects such as minor skin rashes, sore throats, diarrhea or more serious problems.

Children tend to spend more time in the water than adults. They are also more likely to accidentally swallow water when swimming and, for this reason, they are more likely than adults to get sick. However, babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Swim Water Testing FAQs

Contact your town health officer with questions about your town’s public swimming area testing protocols or results.


Learn about water safety in Vermont
Learn more about waterborne diseases

Contact Information

Toxicological Sciences Program
802-863-7220 or
800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont)
Fax: 802-863-7483

[email protected]

In This Section

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are common in Lake Champlain and other Vermont waters. Some types of cyanobacteria can release natural toxins or poisons (called cyanotoxins) into the water.

Not all Vermont bays, lakes, and ponds are monitored. Be aware of changing conditions, and keep out of the water if you think cyanobacteria may be present. Check recent reports on lake conditions and season summaries. To find out if a beach or swim area is open, call the beach manager.

The Health Department recommends that people limit eating some fish caught in Vermont waters.