FAQs & Resources

What is the definition of “moving water”?

According to the NFPA, if water flows faster than 1.85 km/h, it is considered to be "moving" water or "swiftwater". If you also consider that average walking speed is 5 km/h, it is evident that water doesn't have to be travelling very fast at all to be considered "moving" water.

This means that large, lazy rivers, tidal flats, and estuaries that many consider to be flat, or non-moving can easily fall into the category of "swiftwater". This environment requires specific training in order for personnel to work within 10' of the water's edge, in, or on moving water.

It is also means that flood water can usually be classified as moving or swiftwater and therefore, also requires additional training for those who work in flood conditions.

To "guess-timate" the speed of moving water, a simple method is to throw a stick into the main flow and keep pace with it on shore. If you have to move more quickly than a very slow walk, it is probably swiftwater.

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