Is The Harlem River Safe

Is The Harlem River Safe


The Harlem River, located in New York City, is an important waterway that flows between the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. It is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. However, concerns have been raised about the safety of the water in the Harlem River. In this article, we will explore the current state of the river and address the question, “Is the Harlem River safe?”

Water Quality

One of the primary concerns regarding the safety of the Harlem River is its water quality. Over the years, efforts have been made to improve the cleanliness of the river, but it still faces challenges. The river receives stormwater runoff from the surrounding urban areas, which can introduce pollutants into the water. However, various organizations and government agencies are continuously monitoring the water quality and taking steps to mitigate any potential health risks.


Swimming in the Harlem River is generally not recommended due to potential health hazards. Although there are no official bans on swimming, the water quality may not meet the standards for safe swimming. Factors such as bacterial contamination and floating debris can pose risks to swimmers. It is advisable to seek alternative swimming locations where water quality is better regulated.


Fishing is a popular activity in the Harlem River, but it is important to be aware of advisories and regulations. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regularly tests the river’s fish for contamination, particularly regarding certain chemicals and heavy metals. It is advisable to check for any fishing advisories before consuming fish caught in the Harlem River and to follow the recommended guidelines for safe consumption.

Recreational Boating

Recreational boating in the Harlem River is generally safe, as long as proper safety precautions are taken. It is important to wear life jackets, follow boating regulations, and be mindful of other vessels on the river. However, boaters should also be cautious of potential hazards in the water, such as submerged debris or strong currents.


The safety of the Harlem River is a subject of ongoing concern. While efforts have been made to improve water quality and regulate recreational activities, it is important for individuals to remain vigilant and informed. The current state of the river suggests that swimming may not be advisable, and fishing should be done with awareness of advisories. However, recreational boating can generally be enjoyed safely with proper precautions. As the city continues its efforts to monitor and enhance the water quality, the Harlem River can be enjoyed responsibly for various activities.

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