Renovations to Barton Springs Pool protect environment

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Barton Springs Pool will begin its rennovations in October bringing a paved parking lot, building accesible paths for the disabled and improving root conditions for trees.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Renovations to Barton Springs Pool will focus on preserving and maintaining the environmnetal health of the area.

On the list of renovations are projects that will combat erosion, remove compaction to improve root conditions of the Heritage trees and pave a parking lot to redirect run-off flow. Robin Camp, the city of Austin project manager said there are a couple of issues that are being fixed with the construction, but a large portion of the renovations are upgrades.

“One issue we’ve had has been a big gully that goes down and shoots out water, which deposits mud and gunk,” Camp said. “It’s dangerous for those who walk on it, and it has contributed to the erosion.”

Another part of the project will be replacing the gravel parking lot with new pavement. Camp said there is a minimal risk that the
construction project will disturb dirt and dust in the area, potentially poluting the air and water. The project will be executed with caution, Camp said.

“I know it sounds like we’ll be creating pollution with paving the parking lot, but this addition is positive for the environment,” Camp said. “We’ll be able to control the flow of run-off, which will improve the water quality of
the springs.”

In addition to addressing the problems of erosion, the project will seek to protect the native wildlife. The springs are also home to two endangered species of salamander that depend on water quality to survive. 

“With the project starting this fall, there is very little risk to the salamanders,” city biologist Laurie Dries said. “In fact, there are a lot of good things coming out of the project, like the irrigation system that will eliminate water chemicals and the new drainage system that will get rid of almost all storm
water run-off.”

The salamanders inhabiting the springs are aquatic creatures experiencing population decline due mostly to the severe drought and urbanization pollution that occurs. 

“We only have about a rough average of the population of the salamanders, but right now we average the salamander abundance to be around 100 salamanders in all the springs,” Dries said. “These improvements will help to direct muddy, dirty and potentially polluted run-off away from the
salamanders’ habitat.”

Courtney Black, public information specialist for Public Works, said they are adhering to the requirements of the Save Our Springs Ordinance, which holds them to strict environmental standards. 

“The health of the environment is our first and foremost concern,” Black said.