Enjoying Lake Lanier SAFELY in 2021 – Revised for 2022

If you are heading back to our beautiful Lake Lanier for some summer fun, get some tips on protecting yourself and the lake.

Update April 27, 2022:

Here’s an insightful article about Lake Lanier testing and safety in 2022. 

Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, said the safest bet is to avoid swimming 48-72 hours after rainfall and not enter areas with visible goose droppings.

“That (after rain) is going to be when your bacteria count is highest,” Flowers said. “Bacteria doesn’t thrive in Lake Lanier, but it is introduced from the rivers and tributaries that come into the lake. If you give it time to clear up after rainfall, that bacteria count goes back down to normal.”

***Original Article***

Folks are heading back to our beautiful Lake Lanier for some summer fun, and we don’t want to put a damper on that. However, Lake Lanier is a significant source of drinking water, home to an abundance of wildlife, and a source of much-needed R&R. And in recent years, it has become quite polluted. So we would like to encourage all the lake lovers out there to…well…love the lake!

Recent Reports on Lake Lanier:

  • In 2019, according to the North Gwinnett Voice, a report listed Lake Lanier as one of the state’s most polluted waterways. The reasons mentioned were coal ash pollution, improperly maintained water treatment facilities, and other sources of pollution spilled into rivers and streams.
  • In October of 2020, an estimated 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Flat Creek, which feeds into Lake Lanier.
  • As recent as March 2021, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, “The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper recently collected water samples at Lanier that showed high levels of chlorophyll, which can point to an overabundance of algae blooms from pollution.”  This comes from various sources, including stormwater runoff from fertilizers used on lawns and farms, treated sewage discharges, failing septic systems, and clogged sewer pipes from improperly disposing of fats, oils, and grease.

While we can blame local industries for some of the problems, you can see from the above sources, it’s on all of us. And it will impact all of us. And we should all do our part to help. In addition to using environmentally friendly products, here are some things you can do to make a difference. And if you see something, say something. You can report problems here.

Is Lake Lanier Safe for Swimming?

According to an article published on AccessWDUN on May 20, 2021, yes, Lake Lanier is safe for swimming. However, your summer will be a lot more fun if you stay healthy. Since water quality can change daily, knowledge is the power you need to make that happen.

We recommend you connect with local sources such as the Lake Lanier Association and get current water safety information at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Staying informed can help you avoid a variety of recreational water illnesses.

What are Recreational Water Illnesses?

Recreational water illnesses are diseases people can contract while swimming or playing in contaminated pools, hot tubs/spas, water parks, or oceans, lakes, and rivers.

Diarrhea, the most common recreational water illness, is easily spread by pollution or when a person who is already sick gets into the water. This can be especially dangerous due to the presence of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Other common recreational water illnesses like ear, skin, eye, respiratory, and other infections—can be caused by germs that live naturally in the water and soil.

Who Is At Most Risk?

Pregnant women, children, and people who have a compromised immune system are most at risk for recreational water illnesses. According to the CDC, “People with weakened immune systems should consult their healthcare provider before participating in recreational water activities, such as swimming.”

Preventing Recreational Water Illnesses

The most important thing we should do to prevent recreational water illnesses is to keep germs out of the water. Again, we should all do our part, but we cannot always control what goes into Lake Lanier. So here are some things we CAN do to try to enjoy a safe swim.

  • If you or your child have had diarrhea during the past two weeks, please stay out of the water.
  • Take a shower before entering the water.
  • When swimming, keep the water out of your mouth at all times.
  • For small children, use swimming earplugs and a nose clip to prevent water from entering.
  • Dry your ears immediately after swimming.
  • As soon as possible after swimming, take a bath or shower.
  • Do not swim with open cuts or sores.
  • Consider using a saline nasal rinse and sterile saline eyewash after swimming.

What If You Get Sick?

If you become ill soon after swimming, don’t panic. Call your physician, especially if you are high risk (see above), and inform them of your symptoms and where you swam.

Remember, we are here for you seven days a week. You can get help quickly with a Telemedicine visit or stop by for an assessment. We’ll get you on the right path to wellness. As a matter of fact, here’s a helpful quote from Caleb Henson, one of our urgent care providers:

Anyone who develops vomiting and/or diarrhea within a few days of being in the lake should make sure to mention to your medical provider that there was an exposure to the lake at the time of being seen. It is especially important to relay this information to the pediatrician should your child become ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea. Children under 4 years old are especially susceptible to significant illness and complications secondary to E. coli infections from lake water. The elderly should also make their medical provider aware of lake exposure if symptoms develop and don’t resolve within 48 hours.

Helpful Resources

Learn more about recreational water illnesses on the CDC website.

Photo Credit https://lakelanier.com/