San Marcos River users worry about construction's impact

SAN MARCOS -- As more rain rolls into the Central Texas area, some river users in San Marcos are concerned it will mean more pollution flowing into local waterways.

Zach Halfin was out eating pizza Tuesday night in the shopping center at the corner of N LBJ Dr. and Sessom, currently the site of two major construction projects, when another storm rolled in.

"It was pretty much a torrent of water going down LBJ," said Halfin, who then grabbed his cell phone camera and began documenting the flooded road.

"I wanted proof," said Halfin, who also used a water bottle to capture a sample of the runoff. "You can see there's at least a tablespoon of silt in this one liter of water," said Halfin while holding up the murky bottle.

He said he watched as the brown water flowed down the road and directly into the bed of Sessom Creek, about a half a mile from the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Halfin says he's concerned there aren't enough erosion control measures in place to keep contamination and sediment from getting into the river water.

San Marcos Spokesperson Melissa Millecam says their construction site meets state requirements for erosion control measures. Records show there have been problems in the past.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has fined the city at least four times since 2009 for either not having a plan in place to prevent water pollution, or allowing a construction site to contaminant waterways. The fines add up to more than $14,600.

"Where it stands right now, it's completely inadequate, It's a complete failure," said Halfin of the city's erosion control measures.

Millecam says their erosion control measures are inspected weekly, but Tuesday's storm convinced the city's Development Services and Engineering Departments that extra safeguards should be added. She says new mulch logs and additional silt fencing will be added immediately to prevent further impact from a future flooding situation.

She also says the city is requiring a private contractor, HCM Construction, to add additional erosion control measures to the Chestnut Street Lofts project just up the street from the intersection.


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