September President’s Report
Adventures in the Barton Springs Bypass Tunnel
Your intrepid reporter swims through the ooze to bring you the news
With all the talk about the bypass tunnel, I wanted to take a look in there to see it for myself. So I asked David Johns if I could go with him on his next expedition. I promised not to get in the way or hurt myself.
David had to go in there to get some photos and videos to show the Parks Board, so we met at poolside on a Thursday and geared up to go down under. David gave me the safety drill. Something along the lines of, “There may be snakes, so yell if something bites you.”
As we entered the upstream end, the tunnel was empty, and the floor was dry. No water flows in, from the dry creek. Spider webs dotted the ceiling.
The tunnel is wide enough to drive my miata in, and tall enough that I could stand up. As we moved away from the entrance, darkness closed in, and the only light was that one at the far end of the tunnel, and the shining of our headlamps.
As the tunnel sloped downhill, we walked into water up to our ankles, our knees, our waist. The bottom was deep in muck, and our steps stirred it up, sending a dirty submerged cloud ahead of us.
We swam to the downstream end of the tunnel, careful not to touch the bottom. Once we stopped and turned to walk upstream, we could see the bottom through clear water. The slow-moving water carried the silt we kicked up away behind us. Some big catfish and small fry swam past us.
As we made our way upstream David swept the bottom with his hand lamp, and stopped to photograph holes in the bottom. I would pull my goggles on and put my face in the water to look.
Some big holes went right through the floor and into a gravel bed underneath. One crack looked to be maybe four feet long and six inches wide.
David decided to reach into a couple of the holes to feel underneath. He said he had done it before. As he dove down and ran his arm down a hole, with his snorkel submerged under a couple of feet of water, I wanted to say, “Hey, man, don’t get stuck down there!”
Eventually we worked our way back to the upstream end, and I went up to the showers. I was glad to be back in the sunlight.