The great state of Texas is one of the most fascinating places in the entire US. There are thousands of things that Texas is renowned for. From being the number one oil production state, to having the Live Music Capital of the world, Texas is a place everyone should visit (Expect those who fear alligators). In this blog, we ask, can you swim in Texas lakes?
Viewing the many great things Texas has to offer, we can’t help but wonder, what is Texas like for our type of people – The Swimmers of Texas. Not only that but, we wanted to know can you swim in Texas lakes and rivers? Our findings were very interesting, to say the least.
To swim or not to swim in Texas lakes, that is the question…
Before we get into the details, we just wanted to point something out. Texas is only second to Alaska when it comes to size. That is important to remember, as we are going to talk about a massive state, with countless natural and artificial lakes.
Despite our best attempts at being as broad as possible, it is borderline impossible to cover every lake and river in Texas, just due to the sheer amount of them. With that aside, let’s begin.
If you plan to swim in Texas lakes, and want to know whether that is a safe thing or not, you should ask The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. A channel stationed in Dallas did just that. The answer they got was that most Lakes are considered safe for swimming in Texas.
Then the article proceeds to let us know that this conclusion by the TCEQ, is based on samples they have taken about 7 years ago. With that article being published in 2017, the samples date back to 2010.
The same channel went ahead and did a bit of research on their own, regarding the safety of Trinity River in Dallas. With the help of experts, they examined the water for E. Colia. The results showed that the Trinity River has an average of E. Colia presence, 20 times higher than the EPA’s safe swimming standards.
On top of that all, they also mention and show that the Trinity River has a huge pollution problem. Everywhere you look, there’s waste.
As if all this wasn’t enough, they also mention that this river has been the site of some toxic dumping by certain businesses in the area.
With all this evidence being inconclusive at best, and a hard NO at best, we decided to try some other sources. We still want to swim in Texas lakes, and we don’t know if all of them are contaminated or not.
Our next source is ‘Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’. In their website they have a neat page for guidelines on Swimming in Texas State Parks
In this page you can find a specific section that is perfect for people who want to swim in Texas lakes. You can find a list of all lakes, rivers and creeks. Upon clicking on your preferred location, a new tab pops up with information about that place.
With Texas being as huge as it is, again, we couldn’t cover all of them. Instead we wanted to try a somewhat scientific approach. We picked different lakes at random to see what the TPWD had to say.
What we found is that most of the time, swimming isn’t mentioned. Instead the page focuses on other things such as camping, fishing, and other activities. We found a section about swimming in only one of our picks; The Abilene State Park.
Here it is recommended that people swim at the swimming pool, and swimming in the lake is phrased like this “…Or swim in the lake, at your own risk.”
The Swimming Safety Tips from the TPWD also make no mention of the water quality. Maybe that’s because TPWD isn’t responsible for that. Which again brings us to the same issue. It is hard to get the officials to talk about this.
So, should you swim in Texas Lakes?
First off, rivers seem to be a no-go most of the time. Especially near the more populated areas, such as Dallas or Houston. Of course, this might not be the case for each, and every single river. Your best bet would be talking to the locals and asking them. Or, just trusting your nose…
Lakes are a bit more complex. You probably can swim in Texas lakes, despite what we said so far. Most experts say that lakes are very efficient when it comes to dilution. So most of the time, they are safe and don’t keep high levels of toxins or bacteria.
If you decide to swim in Texas Lakes, keep in mind to follow the safety guidelines. Different seasons have different impacts upon the lakes. As for our conclusions, we would like to take a similar stance as the TPWD: “swim at your own risk.”