Governor Baker files swimming safety bill

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker is filing legislation to increase fines for swimming outside designated waterfronts at state parks and beaches statewide.

The legislation, “An Act Relative to Enhanced Enforcement of Swimming Limitations,” would increase the maximum fine to $500 for entering or swimming in any waters on Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) property that are not designated for swimming. The new bill would create a uniform maximum fine of $500 for entering or swimming in waters other than those designated for swimming by DCR. 

“Swimming at undesignated waterfronts is dangerous and too often leads to tragic consequences, and this legislation is part of a comprehensive plan to discourage risky behavior and ensure the safety of visitors to our state parks and beaches,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “While we encourage all to visit our beautiful coastal and inland beaches, we urge the public to exercise caution and not swim at any body of water that has not been designated for swimming by state or local authorities.” 

DCR swimming facilities clearly mark swimming areas with ropes and buoys, provide lifeguards, and water quality testing. Undesignated waterfronts do not receive such services, and may also have hazardous features like murky water, steep slopes, and aquatic plant species, creating a potentially dangerous situation for swimmers.

DCR has partnered with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) to implement new measures to enhance public safety and discourage swimming at undesignated waterfronts. DCR has produced and posted dozens of new swimming safety signs at DCR parks and beaches. These signs will be in multiple languages at select areas. DCR has also increased outreach for the agency’s Learn to Swim program, which offers free swimming lessons at 12 locations statewide for people of all ages.

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