The end of the year is nearly here and FBSP is excited once again to participate in the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Years’ Day! We hope to see you all at the Pool this New Years’ Day to greet the new decade with a refreshing dip in the clear calm waters of Barton Springs and give a warm welcome to our 2020 FBSP Board.

Visit us at our booth on the south side of the Pool anytime between 9:30 and 4:00 on January 1 to meet our new Board, get information about membership and volunteering, and of course, to grab your 2020 Polar Bear Plunge swag!

Before the holidays, the 2019 FBSP Board welcomed three new members to its group of dedicated volunteers. After much deliberation, I decided the time had come to pass the torch to a new president and I am thrilled to announce that Stacey Buchanan will take over the role of president for the 2020 season. Stacey is an enthusiastic supporter of Barton Springs Pool and I am confident she will carry out the mission of the FBSP organization dutifully and faithfully. FBSP additionally welcomes David Cochran to the role of Vice President (replacing Ashley Todd who assumes the treasurer chair for the 2020 season) who will steer our ongoing efforts with the aquatic planting project, and Mark Jensen, who joins us as a talented and much-needed communications

President: Stacey Buchanan
Vice President: Dave Cothran
Treasurer: Ashley Todd
Secretary: Sarah Williams
Advocacy: Mike Cannatti
Communications: Mark Jensen
Fun: Carole Geffen
Fundraising: Brian Keogh
Membership: Renee Weissend
Service: Marc Czo

Update on the Aquatic Plant Nursery at Zilker Botanical Garden 

A huge thank you to the Barton Springs Conservancy which was able to secure grant funding for this project and to the Zilker Botanical Garden which agreed to set up a nursery for aquatic plans that will support increased aquatic plantings in the Pool. FBSP is shepherding more than 130 plants its volunteers added to the Pool this year with high hopes the plants will survive until spring and increase the biodiversity that is critical to the Pool’s ecosystem!

As my final duty as president, I personally would like to welcome Stacey, David and Mark to the Board, offer a huge thank you to the Board’s continuing members all of whom tirelessly serve FBSP year-round, Sarah Williams, Carole Geffen, Marc Czo, Ashley Todd, Renee Weissend, Mike Cannatti, and Brian Keough, and bid a fond farewell to Laurie Evans, who served as a superior advocate for the Pool and I know will continue to do so in her future endeavors. I feel humbled to have served in the role of President for so long and am grateful the Austin community is fortunate enough to have so many faithful stewards of Barton Springs Pool. I am jazzed about this new board and am looking forward to my role as a past president and proud future member of FBSP.

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, Past President

President’s Report: August, 2019


We are fast approaching the end of the pool cleaning season with Sept. 5 and Oct. 3 being the last of the first Thursday dates to volunteer, along with Councils Cleans the Pool on Thursday (Oct. 24).  The season has been very successful working with corporate sponsors like AMD, C3 Presents, Wholefoods along with teams from all walks of life like ABGB, BRC Recovery, Austin Allies, Austin Youthworks, Progress Texas, and of course our loyal Friends!  Folks, when you add up all the people/hours, we put up staggering numbers —  500+ volunteers putting in 3000+ volunteer hours at the pool!


Aquatic plants in the pool update.  We have a new approach that takes into account some successes that were realized in the past along with a better commitment from PARD and Watershed. FBSP will be leading a team that will help with planting and maintaining the plants.  To better prepare the plants, we are going to create a nursery.  The planting will be done during the scheduled partial draw-downs of the pool to make it easier and safer.  If anyone is interested in finding out more about this effort, check out our website or email me at president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org

Speaking of partial draw-downs, FBSP has been advocating for this since 2006 as a way of improving water quality.  When the pool is drawn down, it kills the algae in the shallow end, and BSP Staff is able to get the bobcat with the power brush and hoses (Broom Brigade on steroids…) to wash away the organics and make it less slippery for swimmers.


Opening up the upper dam to creek flow something that we have been advocating for since 2006.  I could go on and on about the benefits and I encourage anyone interested in learning more to refer to the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan.  The good news is Watershed recognized the benefits and took on this project.  Furthermore, they have progressed to the point where they hired an engineering firm to design the gates, and develop a plan for when to take advantage of creek flow in the pool.  We have been involved all along the way with meetings and discussions and are looking forward to seeing what they have designed.   We encourage everyone to support this effort, again if you are interested in finding out more about this effort email me at president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org


Barton Creek Safety update.  Joe Riddell, a long-time environmental activist and avid kayaker of the creek, has led this charge and succeeded in getting the Environmental Board to create a resolution to council for “Safety improvements above Barton Springs Pool for inner-tubers and boaters” (Environmental Commission Motion 20190619 007b).  In the short term, you should be seeing some signs over the creek and a temporary location for getting off the creek upstream from the upper dam.  In the long term, a more formal way to safely get off the creek will be installed near where the gravel trap dam was.  Another area of concern that sadly resulted in a drowning at the inlet to the bypass tunnel will be to make changes to the inlet gate to improve the safety.


Council Cleans the Pool is an event we have sponsored over the years and it is going to  happen again on Thurs, October 24.  Areas of interest for this event will be an update on Bathhouse Rehabilitation project, Barton Creek Safety, Upper Dam Protect, Zilker Park Master Plan, Repopulating Aquatic Plants, and identifying potential bond projects to benefit the park.  Oh, and we also strongly encourage our mayor and council members to get in the pool, grab a broom and help put that shine on our beloved pool. We also hope to plant some trees again this year.

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, FBSP President

President’s Report: June, 2019


Happy almost Summer! The FBSP Board, and I in particular, would like to give A HUGE SHOUT OUT to the 30+ emergency volunteers who showed up with less than 24-hours’ notice to help clear the pool of flood damage on Tuesday May 7th. These amazing volunteers showed up and with their help we cleared much of the flood debris off the south lawn and nature trail and put the finishing touches on removing gravel from the pool at the north corner by the dam. Their work allowed BSP staff to concentrate on the pool once the flooding stopped which meant the pool was able to reopen sooner!!!

FBSP Picnic- Saturday June 15, 2019

I am pleased to announce that the FBSP Picnic is scheduled for Saturday, June 15th from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (ABGB), 1305 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704!!  We have reserved the outdoor picnic table area, will have food and drinks tickets available, and will be raffling off swim passes and FBSP towels. Around 3:00pm, we’ll bike over to the pool from ABGB for some afternoon fun at the Springs. Come by, introduce yourself to the current board members, and learn more about all of the good things we are doing and what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. Please RSVP to fun@friendsofbartonspringspool.org

Upcoming Volunteer Cleanings

Our next volunteer cleaning is on Thursday June 6th from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. This year we have gotten a lot of interest from corporate volunteer teams to work along our regular crew of dedicated volunteers. A special THANK YOU to ABGB, BRC Recovery, AMD, Whole Foods, and American Youthworks for participating! Your engagement is an invaluable and very welcome contribution to our volunteer efforts. For members that have not previously volunteered for one of our cleanings, please join us! For more information and to sign up, visit our website at www.friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

Ongoing Advocacy

As many of you know, FBSP is focused on raising awareness and advocating for change at the pool. One of those ongoing efforts is re-populating the aquatic plants in the pool. These plants play a key role in the pool’s ecosystem and are necessary to the quality of water and the overall health of the pool. FBSP is part of a small group of stakeholders manning this initiative and is putting together a team to monitor and maintain the aquatic plant presence, which has been challenged by recent repeated flooding.

Another important effort outside the fence is improving safety in the creek above the Pool near the upper dam. We are working with Save Barton Creek Association and others to get temporary warning signs posted while we look at potential long-term solutions to this issue.

We are looking forward to seeing the bathhouse rehabilitation project begin sometime in early 2020 thanks in large part to Barton Springs Conservancy, which celebrated its considerable fundraising accomplishments, including an especially generous donation from the Moody Foundation which helped meet its fundraising goals for the project. A big congratulations to BSC and endless thank yous for your ongoing efforts on this project!

Call for Board Members

The FBSP Board has openings available for members who want to take their participation with the pool up a notch. Members interested in getting more involved should contact me at president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org to chat more about how you can help take us into the future.

On a personal note, I have started my daily sunrise swim at the pool and hope to maintain that ritual throughout the summer. I enter from the south gate and hang out near the diving board so if you have the will to get up and see the sun rise over the pool, come join me and a few others as we start the day with a cool refreshing dip in the pool…:)

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, FBSP President

March 2019 President’s Report for FBSP


We are kicking the 2019 season with a board retreat in March where we will discuss our goals for 2019.  But first I would like to welcome our new Fundraising Chair Renee Weissend.  Renee reached out to us expressing interest in getting involved with FBSP, she lives in the Zilker area and enjoys swimming at the pool.  To make room for Renee, we moved Ashley Todd from “Fundraising Chair” to “Vice President.”  We are all excited about having Renee on the board and having Ashley take on another role at FBSP.  In addition, we are seeking to fill vacancy with our  Membership  chair if anyone is interested in being a part of an awesome team please contact me at president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org.

On Thursday, March 7, we are kicking off our year of volunteer cleaning at the pool from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Our volunteer pool cleanings will happen on the first Thursday of each month from March through October, and we hope you all take the time to participate.  This first cleaning in 2019 will happen during the multiple day spring cleaning of the pool (Monday, March 4 until Friday, March 15) when the pool will be drawn down for a variety of projects and so this will be a rare opportunity to see the springs in their natural form along with getting involved with some rather unique cleaning opportunities at the pool.

We have many challenges both inside and outside the fence at Barton Springs Pool.  As a nonprofit organization, our true calling is “inside the fence” where we organize volunteer pool cleanings.  In addition, we take the knowledge and experience gained from these events to raise awareness of issues, advocate for change, and work with the Pool Staff to find solutions.  This year we have challenges that include planting trees, repopulating aquatic plants, removing sediment at the bypass tunnel inlet, keeping algae in the shallow end under control, eliminating non-native plants, and of course, putting a shine on the pool railings and the diving well ducks.

We are driven to supporting our outside the fence goals by the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan.  This involves identified projects in the Master Plan, such as the rehabilitation and restoration of the bathhouse and the opening of the pool to creek flow at the upper dam.  We will be involved with advocating for funding from historic preservation funds, the city funding for the 2020 budget and any other sources that will help to finance the causes that consider important to making the pool the best it can be.  We have also been actively involved with the Zilker Park Working group that was created via a resolution by city council to come up with recommendations for parking and traffic challenges at the pool and Zilker Park. This effort is a precursor to the Zilker Master Plan project that is slated to begin defining the scope sometime this year.  Our role in the process is twofold.  First, we have experience with advocating for a master plan because we got one approved in 2009 for BSP.  Second, BSP might be the crown jewel but the ring it sits on is Zilker Park, so our involvement in this process is very important in advocating for the future of BSP.

We are all about finding ways to put big smiles and foster good feelings at the pool. Last year’s “Council Cleans the Pool” event was a huge success in raising awareness to the challenges at the pool and resulted in getting funding for the Barton Spring Bathhouse Rehabilitation Project.  We are proud of the fact that we could play a role in getting that approved and look forward to making that happen again this year.

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, FBSP President

Bathhouse Rehab Project Community Meeting (August 14, 2018) — Join Us!

As a friendly reminder, please join us tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14, 2018 (6-7:30pm at Zilker Botanical Gardens) for a Project Values and Program Workshop Community Meeting to discuss the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation project.  At the meeting, city staff and the design architects (Limbacher & Godfrey) will to provide an update and discuss the bathhouse design issues to get community feedback and input.

Through the meetings thus far, we have emphasized the importance of making environmental education a key part of any final bathhouse design that improves the visitor experience.  In the community, there is strong agreement that the best and only way to preserve Barton Springs is by dramatically increasing our education efforts and public outreach to our growing population to educate the citizens and local officials about the threats to the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs, and how we as a community can protect it for future generations.  Currently, the competing needs at the bathhouse are in conflict and are squeezing the educational function, so we want expanded and improved education to be part of the bathhouse and any visitor education center.  Generally speaking, this can be achieved by advocating for the following design outcomes:

  1.  Implement the Master Plan’s recommendations for:
  •          returning the main entrance to the original entrances at the central rotunda,
  •          upgrading the gallery and creating a Visitor Center to provide a central organizing experience for all pool visitors, and
  •          updating the dressing areas and reconfiguring public restrooms for improved comfort and accessibility while respecting their historic architectural heritage.
  1. Implement the Feasibility Study’s detailed recommendations for protecting, enhancing and expanding the environmental education programming at the Bathhouse and/or a Visitor Education Center to improve the visitor experience by:
  •          reopening the rotunda entrances to enhance the entrance experience and to include environmental education exhibits, preferably while maintaining the current entrance,
  •          reopening (and restoring?) the Women’s Dressing Area to the extent possible,
  •          maintaining at least part of the central rotunda space and former basket room for public access (e.g., exhibits, environmental education, etc.), and
  •          dramatically increasing our education efforts and public outreach to our growing population to educate the citizens and local officials about the threats to the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs, and how we as a community can protect it for future generations, since this is the best and only way to preserve Barton Springs,
  •          providing visitor education to address the environmental impact of sunscreen and “best practices” for minimizing impact,
  •          reducing impervious cover and/or improving water quality outcomes as part of the overall process.

These seem like good guiding design values that leave plenty of room for design options that can be developed by the architects.

For the latest information on the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation project, be sure to visit the city’s Bathhouse Rehabilitation website for information on project goals and timeline for upcoming community meetings where you can join the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works Department, and other Barton Springs Stakeholders to provide input for the design process for the historic Barton Springs Bathhouse, extending the work of the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan, the Zilker Park Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study, and 2012 Bond Package.

July 2018 President’s Report


So it has been awhile since I sat down and put pen to paper and wrote one of these, so I have a bit of catching up to do.  First off, we have been really successful with our efforts to enlist corporate or team sponsors to participate in our volunteer pool cleaning events.  For the past couple of years Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company(ABGB) and BRC Recovery, have had a team of 15-20 volunteers every month.  Wholefoods had a team last year and really stepped up this year with a team of 30 in May followed up with a team of 10 in June.  They also made donation to allow us to invest in the consumables for cleaning, and will be one of our sponsors for our next FBSP t-shirt donation drive. June also had a big turnout from ACL Live.  FYI: We offer our t-shirts, towels and other apparel for donations that are used for tools and other equipment used at the pool.  Having the tools to efficiently and safely do the cleaning is essential to our volunteer cleaning success.

For as long as FBSP has been in existence, we have based our efforts on inside and outside the fence activities that we support.  Our primary objective has been to focus our energies on inside the fence efforts, like cleaning algae from the pool, planting trees, planting aquatic plants, and keeping all the invasive plants in and around the pool under control.  This is a never ending job that our volunteers take on with a passion that always makes one proud to be a Friend of Barton Springs Pool.

Another equally important objective is supporting outside the fence activities that for the most part are driven by the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan.  Things  like the recently-completed Day Lighting of Eliza, advocating for the Bathhouse Rehabilitation Project, advocating for funding a feasibility study for upgrading the upper/lower dams, advocating for bond funding for parks and open space protection, and Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funding for historic preservation — all of these causes have an impact on how we as friends continue to insure that Barton Springs Pool is here for folks to enjoy for the next generation of swimmers.  As members of FBSP, I implore all of you to find a way to support these efforts by writing the mayor and council in support, or getting involved with our board to advocate for these causes.  We need your help and we cannot do it without you.

I was fashionably late in getting settled into my routine of a daily sunrise swim at the pool, but as of Sun (6/24), I am back!  Whenever I rekindle this routine at the pool, I kick myself for not getting my butt out of bed and getting my daily pool fix sooner. My ritual is to swim with a mask and snorkel for one lap, checking out the plants and fish and occasionally picking up litter that catches my eye, and then top it off with one dive, and one jump off the diving board.  This year’s routine includes a variation of inspecting and brushing algae off the 4 cages that have been planted with aquatic plants in the pool.  We are on the 4th round of trying to successfully introduce aquatic plants into the pool, I see some green inside at least 2 of the 4 cages so it could be we are on the right path….  I will keep you updated when we remove the cages and see what has survived.  Another very important part of my morning ritual is just sitting, people watching, enjoying another amazing sunrise, letting the morning sun dry me off, and relishing in that core cooling effect that the pool has on you.  This is a time when I sometimes engage in conversation with anyone that is within earshot, there is a lively group of us “south side by the diving board regulars” that seem to really enjoy sharing our daily experiences.  We are not alone in this activity at the pool, and if you take notice, there are little pockets of folks all around doing the very same thing. It is a part of a regular routine that never gets old so if you are out and about at the pool around sunrise come on by and say hi!

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, FBSP President