In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Elliana Bermudez, 5, enjoys a warm afternoon fishing in Lake Auburn with her father, Tim Bermudez, left, who taught her to fish, in Auburn. Credit: Andree Kehn / Sun Journal via AP

For the first time in more than a century, swimmers may be given the OK to cool off in Lake Auburn.

This comes as a new study shows swimming wouldn’t affect the water quality in Lake Auburn, which serves as the drinking supply for the Lewiston-Auburn area. For that reason, swimming has not been allowed there for decades.

“Currently, or for the last 100 years, there has been no physical contact allowed, [and that has] significantly reduced recreation and reduced development around this lake,” Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said.

Right now, anyone who swims in Lake Auburn could get a $2,500 fine.

Boats are allowed because gas and oil float on the surface and don’t reach the water intake pipes at the bottom of the lake. But Levesque said the study shows swimming won’t affect the drinking water.

“Body contact, small low-impact swimming and other types of recreation that could have bodily contact with the water is permissible,” Levesque said. “It does not put us at risk for losing our water filtration waiver because we have extremely high standards [with] regards to sanitization of our water, with chemical treatment and ultraviolet light treatment.”

Now the city is working on logistics and how to move forward.

“Just doing some bass fishing this afternoon,” Auburn resident Jordan Dolloff said.

Jordan Dolloff, an Auburn resident who visits the lake to fish a couple times a season, said allowing people to swim there is a great idea.

“I think it’s great, the water is very clean here, so as long as it stays that way, I don’t see a problem with it,” Dolloff said.

Heather Todd of Rumford agreed, saying it was “honestly” about time.

“I mean, my thought has always been, ‘They put boats in here, you know, gas, oil, people kayaking, canoeing and they’re touching the water when they’re fishing, so what’s the difference?’” Todd said.

The mayor said the full report will be available in July, and that would lead to a pilot program to test the impact of swimming on water quality.