President’s Report

Pool will close January 24th for flood debris removal.

by Robin Cravey

The flood debris in the Pool almost began to seem like the weather.  As Mark Twain said, everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.  But that’s about to change.

City Parks Dept. staff will give the contractor the go-ahead on January 17th.  The Pool will close to swimmers on January 24th and open again by March 12th.  When it opens, the giant slug of rocks, gravel, sludge, and stuff that raises the deep end bottom from 12 feet to 6 feet will be gone!  The bottom will be 12 feet deep again!

The process will be fascinating, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on it.  The contractors will set up a crane at the top of the hill on the south side.  Workers will set up a coffer dam around the flood debris and dewater that area.  Then the crane will lift out the debris so that it can be trucked away.

Removing the flood debris is part of an overall effort to restore the pool to a more natural state.  In a natural free-flowing creek, the flood debris would be washed down the creek.  Instead, the dam that forms Barton Springs Pool traps the flood debris, and the flood debris acts as a second dam, trapping more flood debris.

The giant bulge grows inexorably, slowly filling the pool and increasing stagnation.  It also traps silt, building up a deep oozing sludge on the bottom behind its rocky wall.  When the pool is full of swimmers, they stir up the sediment, turning the water thickly murky.

Once flood debris was dredged from the pool regularly, but the debris has not been thoroughly cleaned out since 1991.  This was part of a pattern of neglect.
Swimmers rebelled against the neglect of the pool in 2006, and began organizing volunteer cleaning sessions.  We called for action.  After a long public process, the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan was written, urgent short-term projects were funded, and long-term projects were adopted.   Among the short-term projects is removal of the flood debris.

We congratulate the staff on finally moving to get the job done.

Quick Dips

Long time Communications Chair Chasity Keen Larios (right, with FBSP President Robin Cravey) left the board to join the board of the DiscoverHope Fund.  We know she’ll do a dynamite job for them.

Emma Cravey (left) moved from Fun Chair to Communications Chair,
and Mary Yarrington (right) moved from Secretary to Fun Chair.

Pam Nelson (left, with Jane Cravey) joined the board as Secretary.

Star volunteer Kevin French (left, with Service Chair Jonathan Beall) has become our new vice-chair of Service.

Jennifer Malone has been appointed vice-chair of Fundraising.

Several vice-chair positions still available for those with the ambition.

The Flood Debris Should be Gone Soon!

The Friends of Barton Springs Pool have consistently supported the short term Master Plan Project funded in PARD to remove the flood debris and gravel that has created a shallower than normal bar in the deep end of the pool. The Friends have advocated for more regular and effective debris and gravel removal, something that has not been done at the pool in almost 20 years. The short-term project to remove the gravel bar now provides such a mechanism, using a crane to scoop out gravel not successfully removed in earlier trials.

Through the approval process, the City of Austin has worked closely with interested citizens to get input into the project design. An extensive permitting process involving U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and two other agencies reviewed the project to ensure the safety of the endangered salamanders. The gravel Bar Removal Project is now a reality, scheduled for be accomplished in January 2011 while the swimming crowds are away.

Unfortunately, the project must disrupt the pool environment to be accomplished. The project has been designed to minimize disturbance and to be as short and temporary as possible. According to PARD, the pool will be closed on January 24, and they estimate that it will reopen March 12.  During the shutdown, an access pad, crane pad, tree protection, and coffer dam will be placed, and the pool drained down some. Then, the crane will remove the gravel and the coffers, pads, and equipment will be removed.

Earlier this year, the City of Austin prepared a summary of how environmental protection will be maintained while the project is implemented. Please see more here (pdf).

Tom Weber, Advocacy Director, FBSP

Thanks 2010 Volunteers, See You in Spring 2011!

Volunteers shovel sand upstream of the pool after the Hermine flood

Ladies, gentleman, friends one and all,  I would like to extend gratitude deep as the waters beneath the diving board and gushing as the springs in the wettest of years to everyone who gave their time to help keep the gem of our city sparkling.  What better barometer for the condition of our environment in a changing world than the sacred waters of Barton Springs?  As volunteers at the pool we take stewardship of this uncommon urban paradise.  And with our attention to these waters, guide and protect the quality of our resources and lives through the changes of a new millennium.

So, invisible badges of Environmental Archangels all around for the volunteers of 2010, you’ve been deputized!  Regular cleanings and special events, from First Thursdays to Emergency Responses, we have a growing network of incredible individuals and groups who care deeply about a wonderful natural resource.  We logged hundreds of volunteer hours over the course of 2010, pushbrooming the shallow end, scrubbing walls, clearing the nature trail, maintaining the grounds, beautifying the bathrooms.   And we had so much fun doing it, we forgot that most people call that work!

Certainly, our snacks were always delicious and satisfying (Mmm, delicious pizza too, thanks Emma Cravey, former Fun Chair!), and it’s great to get in the water when the pool is closed on a hot summer day.  However, looking back over all the moments and memories of the past year with volunteers, the camraderie and relationships that spontaneously coalesced from a group of people gathering at the springs with a common purpose, this is what continuously surprised me and stands out as the best part of volunteering with the Friends of Barton Springs.

We are looking forward to lots of great opportunities to participate at the pool in 2011 as things are getting off to a big start with the debris removal in just a couple of weeks.  We will have some weekend opportunities to volunteer down at the pool during this closure period.  And then Spring Cleaning is right around the corner, with several opportunities to get the spring fresh sparkle on.  And of course, first Thursdays, pizza and pushbrooms, it doesn’t get much better than that!  I can’t wait to see all the familiar faces and new friends that 2011 will bring to the best poolside party in town!

Warmest Regards and Gratitude,

Jonathan Beall
Service Chair, Friends of Barton Springs Pool

Treasurer’s Report December 2010

Friends of Barton Springs Pool Treasurer’s Report

(December 2010)

FBSP Beginning Balance: $302,817.57
Kempner Fund/Leila Kempner Matching $1,000.00
Membership Donations: $65.00
Sub-total new income: $1,065.00
Total Income: $303,882.57
Constant Contact (email service): $31.07
Sept. Flood, Oct. Cleaning, Fall Social $237.83
Total Expenses: ($268.83)
FBSP Balance: $303,613.74