Barton Springs Pool closed for flood clean-up


by TINA SHIVELY / KVUE News and Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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Posted on October 14, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 12:11 PM

AUSTIN -- The extreme flooding over the weekend had a big impact on many roads and creeks as well as Barton Springs Pool.

The water went from its usual clear to a murky, silty brown. Park staff says the flood water likely rose five feet above its normal stage. When you consider just how big the pool is, you start to realize the size of the impact.

However it's not what we can see. The broken diving board's cast iron base was damaged by the force of the water. Seaweed was thrown on railings.

All kinds of garbage that people leave behind on the greenbelt, everything from glass and cans to medical waste could now all be in the pool, dragged in by the current.

It all happened after midnight Saturday when staff rushed in from home to do what they could to protect the pool. They've seen this before, but not for several years.

Laurie Dries is an evolutionary ecologist for the City of Austin.

"It was pretty typical for a flood that comes after a period of no rainfall," she said. "It tends to be very murky water and then tends to be a lot of debris in it because it's up in the watershed and hasn't been washed down."

Pool staff members were only able to get one and a half of the four floodgates open in time for the flood, and it's all because of a salamander.

Barton Springs Pool is home to the Barton Spring Salamander, an endangered species. Federal law mandates that biologists need to be on the scene before any changes to the salamander's habitat can be made.

The city says an average flood takes about four days to clean up. Because this flood is far worse than average, there's no word on when the pool will reopen.

City trails and golf courses were also shut down Monday morning so the City could evaluate and assess the damage. 

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