AUSTIN – The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is proposing to ban both tubing and swimming along parts of the Colorado River. That comes after a proposed ban on tubing from Longhorn Dam to the Montopolis Bridge.
The parks board decided not to move forward with the ban in August. The proposal is going to the Austin City Council on October 17th for a vote to ban swimming though a city ordinance.
“The reason parks is proposing the amendment to code now is because of the tubing operation that occurred there this summer,” said Kirk Scanlon, a spokesperson for Austin Parks Department.
East Side Tubes opened in May along the Colorado River in East Austin, and thousands of people paid to float.
However, nearby neighbors complained about the traffic and the noise. Code Compliance shut down the business over the path leading down to the water.
Scanlon says the tubing operation made them aware of what they say is a major safety concern on the river from Longhorn Dam to the Montopolis Bridge.
That concern is over rising water levels when LCRA releases water downstream from Longhorn Dam.
"Between 2006 and present, there were 31 calls for that area. Eighteen of those calls were for swift water or still water rescues,” said Scanlon.
There are two popular swimming spots along that stretch of the Colorado River: Montopolis Bridge and the so-called Secret Beach in Roy G. Guerrero Park.
Both spots would be off limits to swimming if the city council passes the new ordinance.