Where is my swimmable water?

Since I moved to Dallas in July of 2012, one thing has been lacking in my local outdoor adventures. Swimmable water. It’s not for lack of looking and trying either as I’ve investigated most of the local lakes and rivers. As my excitement builds up with the visions of diving head first into beautiful water, I am let down when we reach the water’s edge.

Water has always been near and dear to my soul. I grew up in Connecticut with the Long Island Sound about 25 minutes away and remember trips to Vermont to explore the freezing cold clear waterways. More recently my three years in Arkansas were spent with my kayak on the first National River, the Buffalo River, and the just as pristine upper Kings River. Most weeks after work, the boys and I explored the rivers and waterfalls of the area such as “Paradise Falls”.

I know my standards are high. I want clear clean cool beautiful water here in Dallas. I realize that just does not exist here so I would settle for water I wasn’t scared to put my head under water in. This past weekend we explored yet another local recreational lake and I barely got my feet wet.

As we pulled up to Lake Ray Hubbard, a thirty minute drive from my house, I thought maybe this would be the lake! This would be the lake we would come back to on a hot summer day to cool off. Just off the highway I saw kite surfers bouncing up and down in the windy surf.

kite surfer

I was excited to get out of the car and get down to the lake. As soon as I opened the door, my optimism for a swim started to change. The familiar smell was in the air. The smell of questionable water hit me and turned my smile into a frown. We moved closer to the lake and as we walked over rocks covered with trash I still had hope the water would be ok. We reached the shore and my mind was made up.

There was no way you could go barefoot here. Every inch of sand in and out of the water had broken glass. Every few feet there was a large dead fish and you had to keep your mouth closed to keep the flies and gnats from getting inside. There was no way I was diving in.

b and lake

My heart was saddened again. Tires, bottles, glass was everywhere.

It was David that made a profound point. “Why are Texans so proud of their state but they trash it?” he said. I have no idea but it breaks my heart. There is only one natural lake in Texas, the rest are man-made reservoirs. We create these to use for our water supply and recreation but who would want to drink this water and who would want to swim in it?

I felt sorry for the hotel on the east side of the lake. It looks like a beach resort with no beach and dirty water. Maybe they could take charge of the clean up at the lake. It is definitely in their best interest to conserve the water as well as clean it up. I would hope they have low flush toilets, water conscience shower heads and drought tolerant landscaping but I highly doubt it. Every drop they save could go back into their beach front lake.

The City of Dallas is responsible for the lake and there has been lots of news about citizens urging for a clean up. But aren’t we as the people responsible for the trash? We can’t expect someone else to clean it up.

This was by far the nastiest lake I’ve been to in the area. I’m sad and I want some clean water to swim in. The days of “our kids won’t have clean water” is upon us. It’s today.

Wherever you live you have water downstream of you. So please be mindful of your trash, recycle, avoid pesticides and be aware of what you put down the drain from your cleaning supplies to your shampoo.

It all ends up in the water I want desperately to swim in!

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