Santa Barbara Channelkeeper recently launched a new Smartphone application called “Swim Guide” that allows users to get directions, view photos and pinpoint the cleanest beaches in the area.

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a local nonprofit organization geared toward protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel through science-based advocacy, education and enforcement. The app, which was engineered seven years ago in Canada, was launched to help citizens gain access to local water quality reports.

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper Executive Director Kira Redmond said the free application designates the cleanest and safest beaches in Santa Barbara.

“We want to make sure the public has the information they need to protect the health of surfers and swimmers,” Redmond said. “Also, people who bring kids to the beach need to know if there is pollution in it and if it is safe to swim there.”

According to Redmond, most local residents are unaware of the extent of potentially hazardous degradation in their community.

“The public has a right to know about pollution, and we make sure people have that information, and that the information is current.”

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of 200 local organizations that patrols more than 100,000 miles of coastline. The “Swim Guide” app allows users to report water pollution to the nearest Waterkeeper office directly from their phones.

Tully said Waterkeeper Alliance engineered “Swim Guide” to help users pinpoint secluded surf and swim areas. In addition, the app displays water quality and allows users to post write-ups, historical facts and share information on a forum.

“If you’re living in a place where water quality changes rapidly and you don’t know day-to-day what beaches are or aren’t open, before you even leave your house you can tell what’s available and what’s not,” Tully said.

“Swim Guide” Co-creator Krystyn Tully, vice president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, said she hopes the project will promote more frequent beach cleanups in the Santa Barbara area.

“The ‘Swim Guide’ app raises public awareness that a lot of beaches are polluted,” Tully said. “We hope that it spurs greater awareness and support on public agencies to do more to clean up beaches and make them safe and healthy for the public.”

First-year economics major Elizabeth Dang said she believes “Swim Guide” will be a useful addition to her iPhone app collection.

“I cannot stand dirty beaches. … They are shameful,” Dang said. “Why do people have to ruin the best place to hang out in the world? Everybody loves the beach. People need to stop ruining it for everybody.”

Tully said she hopes “Swim Guide” will become a useful tool in beach habitat conservation.

“We hope this app helps raise awareness about beaches and water quality issues for people who’ve never thought about those issues before,” Tully said.