can you swim in lady bird lake

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Of the many places in Austin to take a swim this summer, Lady Bird Lake is not one of them.

The lake, which is technically a reservoir, has been off-limits to swimmers since 1964 when Austin City Council banned swimming in what was then Town Lake, according to the city’s watershed protection department.

The 1964 ordinance bans swimming between the Tom Miller Dam and the Old Montopolis Bridge in Colorado River waters.

Why did they ban swimming? Liz Johnston, the city’s deputy environmental officer in the Watershed Protection Department, said the ban began after several drownings on the Colorado River and the lake.

Pollution is not the primary reason and would not be a reason today to prohibit swimming, Johnston said.

“There are a lot of urban streams that flow into Lady Bird Lake, and so I can understand why people consider it to be polluted,” Johnston said.

The watershed department and state monitor Lady Bird Lake’s contact recreation standards, which look at E. coli levels. Johnston said the water does meet standards for stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and —technically — swimming. But other safety hazards are still reasons to keep swimming prohibited.

Prior sand mining operations, gravel mining operations and floods are some reasons why the river remains off-limits to swimming. There are also currents from Lower Colorado River Authority water releases that create a danger to swimmers. There are also destroyed bridges under water that could be treacherous.

Most of the lake is between 10 to 16 feet deep with some shallower and deeper areas, Johnston said.

While no rule prohibits dogs from swimming in the lake, Johnston said it is “swim at your own risk” and recommends dogs rinse off after. Harmful algae have been found in the water, which has killed some dogs in recent years.

“If there’s a lot of algae around, then it’s very possible that there could be toxic algae present,” Johnston said.

“Enjoy your time on Lady Bird Lake,” Johnston said. “But…any body of water could have risks associated with it, and so just wash off afterward.”

Because of the region’s “steep terrain, shallow soil and unusually high rainfall rates,” it is also susceptible to fast-moving waters when heavy rains hit, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. And flooding can take a toll on water quality.

Floodwater can contain livestock waste, dangerous debris, and wild animals like rodents and snakes — maybe not who youd want to be joining for a dip. Hazardous waste and other contaminants in the water can infect existing wounds and cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal illness.

Since 1964, swimming has been prohibited in Lady Bird Lake; however, the ban is not due to concerns about the water’s quality.

According to Bellinger, “that results in the water not looking as clean and clear aesthetically.” “You may notice bad smells, toxic bacterial signs, or excessive plant growth.” You know, these things are all caused by those overabundance nutrient inputs. ”.

According to Bellinger, “there could be major releases from the Tom Miller Dam through the reservoir at any given time.” “Those swift currents are a hazard for swimmers. “.

Liz Johnston, the city’s deputy environmental officer in the Watershed Protection Department, explained that the swimming ban was implemented in response to multiple drownings that had occurred on the Colorado River and the lake.

The river is still off-limits to swimming due to past floods, sand mining operations, and gravel mining operations. Additionally, swimmers are put in danger by currents originating from water releases by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Additionally, there are some submerged, damaged bridges that could be dangerous.

Lady Bird Lake is not one of the many locations in Austin where you can go swimming this summer (KXAN).

Dogs are allowed to swim in the lake, but Johnston cautioned that they should “swim at their own risk” and wash off afterward. The water contains harmful algae, which has killed some dogs in recent years.

According to Johnston, pollution is not the main cause and wouldn’t be one today if swimming were prohibited.


Is it ok to swim in Lady Bird Lake?

Swimming: It is illegal for any person to swim, bathe, wade or go into the waters of Lady Bird Lake, except in efforts to rescue and recover human beings. Jumping/Diving:It shall be unlawful for any person to dive from or jump of any bridge that crosses the Colorado River within the city limits.

Can you swim in Lady lake?

Swimming is not allowed in Lady Bird Lake because the water is polluted.

What is the contamination in Lady Bird Lake?

A harmful algae bloom occurs when Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, produce toxins. Lady Bird Lake experienced a harmful algae bloom in 2019, which sickened and killed several dogs. There have been harmful algae blooms on Lady Bird Lake every year since then.

Is it safe to paddleboard in Lady Bird Lake?

Paddleboarding, Kayaking & Canoeing It’s a safe haven for families since there are no motorized boats on the water, making it a great place for children to learn the ropes on the lake. Because there is no motorized boat traffic on Lady Bird Lake, paddlers of any kind can take full reign over the lake.