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