During April’s volunteer cleaning, we attacked the sticky burrs on the South Lawn with a group ~15 volunteers, but were only able to clear only a small area. As a result, we realized we needed to advocate for a more robust solution with PARD, and BSP Staff.
Thankfully, we were able to get a plan in place through the help of Kimberly McNeeley and Andrew Savage at PARD. The result is that on the morning of Thursday, May 24th, PARD’s Zilker Staff and members of the PARD Horticulture division started a process of brushing the plants with Finalsan, an organic weed killer. They will cover a large area on the South Lawn and evaluate the results the following day before making a decision on whether to continue with Finalsan or resort to removal by hand. We suspect it will take both approaches and will be gearing up for that effort if needed.
We understand that using a weed killer for eliminating this pesky weed is going to be controversial, but precautions and approvals have been obtained. Here is what we know about Finalsan: its active ingredient is an ammoniated soap of fatty acids, and it is a fast-acting weed killer that you spray on weeds and see results in hours. This product is OMRI-listed and approved for organic gardening. PARD requested approval from Watershed Protection Department to use Finalsan at the pool, and they approved it. We believe that the professional licensed application of this product by PARD Horticulture will be a success.
The next phase of this effort will be to remove all the dead weeds and prepare that area for reseeding. It will also involve a commitment by BSP Staff to irrigate the area so that it recovers as quickly as possible. BSP Staff has assured us that a plan is in the works immediately after this pesky weed has been eliminated.
FBSP is coordinating our next volunteer pool cleaning event on Thurs (6/7) and will dedicate a team to do whatever is needed to ensure a speedy recovery of this area at our beloved Barton Springs Pool. If anyone is interested in getting involved with this effort please go to our website (www.friendsofbartonspringspool.org) and sign up to volunteer or just show up at the pool between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Friends of Barton Springs has been working with Brent Bellinger, Aaron Shad, Mark Eberle, and many other pool stakeholders (including Laurie Dries and Barton Springs Conservancy) to determine the best way to repopulate the pool with aquatic plants. Whenever the pool floods, much of the aquatic plant life is scoured out, and sometimes the recovery of plants in the pool needs a little help. Having a healthy plant population in the pool does three very important things for the health of the pool — the plants provide habitat for the fish and other animals that live in the pool, they feeds on the same nutrients as the nuisance algae and therefore reduces algae blooms, and they will anchor sediment which improves water clarity.
On May 17, 2018, city staff worked with Aaron Schad and Brent Bellinger to the third try to find a method to best repopulate aquatic plants in the pool. Even though the previous two attempts failed, we are confident that the lessons learned along the way are going to ultimately lead us to a successful method that we can use in the future.
The third planting involved using 4 cages that had a design modifications to add a flange at the bottom so that they could be secured to the bottom of the pool with rocks and gravel and would also prevent crawfish and other fish that like to feast on the plants. The cages are located in an area between Lifeguard Stand #5 on the south side and Lifeguard Stand #2 on the north side. They were planted in a deep area just off the beach on the north side where other plant life is growing to keep them out of areas that they use the fire hose to blow sediment downstream during their Thursday cleanings at the pool. The plant species — Water Celery (valliserniary americana) and (6) Illinois Pond Weed (potamogeton illinoensis) — are approved native plants for the pool.
We ask all swimmers to please not disturb these cages to ensure the best chances for success. If you encounter a cage that has been damaged or you consider to be in trouble, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let the folks in charge evaluate the problem and determine a fix. For our part, we will be visually inspecting the cages and reporting back to Brent and Aaron along with gently brushing any algae that attaches itself to the cages to allow sunlight in to aid in their growth.
Regards, Steve Barnick President Friends of Barton Springs Pool