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Swimming and wading are permitted in Lake Springfield only in designated areas. Rules and regulations regarding this type of water activity must be followed at all times. CWLP has the authority to prohibit these activities at any time in order to prevent pollution or injury to the lake or to prevent disease or danger to human life.

Swimming Areas

Swimming from boats on Lake Springfield is permitted, but only between sunrise and sunset and only in "no wake" zones adjacent to non-leased marginal lands.

Swimming within 150 feet of the shoreline of marginal lands that have been leased by the City to lake-area residents and private organizations is permitted under certain conditions, but only with the lessee's consent.

Under certain circumstances, CWLP's general manager may also approve swimming in areas other than those noted above. Before such approval would be granted, however, prerequisites, including the availability of experienced lifeguards and sanitary toilet facilities, would have to be met.

Swimming Health Advisory

When using a lake, river or any other body of fresh water for recreation, there are risks of infection from a variety of microorganisms that are naturally present in freshwater habitats. An example of such an infection is leptospirosis, which struck a number of triathletes and recreational users of Lake Springfield in summer 1998.

Leptospira interrogans is a bacteria that is spread from infected mammals to humans, usually by exposure of the eyes, nose, open mouth, or cuts to water that has been contaminated with the urine of an infected animal. Direct contact with the urine, blood or tissue of an infected animal is another avenue of exposure. Both wild and domestic animals can be infected with, and be the source of, the bacteria that causes leptospirosis.

Symptoms of leptospirosis can include fever, chills, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain, eye pain, red eyes, and dark urine. Symptoms usually begin within two to 10 days of exposure, although it is possible for onset to take 30 days or more. The illness can be treated with antibiotics, but, if left untreated, more serious complications could occur.

Exercising certain precautions when using bodies of fresh water can help reduce your chance of becoming infected by Leptospira interrogans and other disease-causing microorganisms.

These precautions include avoiding:

  • water skiing, jet skiing, swimming or wading when you have cuts, scrapes or athlete's foot
  • swallowing the water
  • swimming in muddy water, particularly after heavy rainfalls

To help reduce the possibility that infectious diseases will be spread through the lake water, persons with any type of contagious diseases or skin infections are not permitted to swim in the lake for the duration of their condition.

To better allow swimmers in Lake Springfield to judge the potential health risks posed by the lake water at any given time, CWLP regularly tests the water for the presence of the E. coli bacteria. The Illinois Department of Public Health uses high levels of E. coli as an indicator of potential health concerns at bathing beaches. High levels of E. coli are believed to indicate the potential for high levels of other harmful microorganisms, including Leptospira interrogans, for which there is no reliable test.