February President’s Report

25 Feb 2010 by admin, Comments Off on February President’s Report

Swimming with nets Could be a good year for cleaning the pool

by Robin Cravey


This year is looking pretty good for cleaning at Barton Springs Pool.  I don’t want to jinx it, but we may be heading into that rarity, an average year.  If so, we’ll be able to use our most effective cleaning techniques and keep the pool pretty clean.


It was around this time in 2006 that I joined together with a few other swimmers and pool lovers to raise a volunteer brigade to help out with the spring cleaning.  That winter we were in drought, and the pool was so full of algae that it was like green jello with spinach.  But we turned to our work with a will, and kept coming back week after week and month after month, and we finally got the algae under control.


One thing that made it hard to clean that year was that we couldn’t drain the pool.  It’s a lot harder to clean the pool when it’s full of water.  But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says we can’t drain the pool if the springflow is lower that 54 cubic feet per second.  So in that drought year, we got in the water and scrubbed with push brooms and skimmed with nets.  It was hard work.

The next year, 2007, was a flood year.  Springflow was high, and we could drain the pool, but every time it got cleaned up and opened for swimming, a big flood came through washing in muck and debris and closed it again for a week or two.  It was miserable.


Then, we went straight back into a drought.  The years 2008 and 2009 were again years of low springflow and cleaning with the pool full.  The algae got bad again, but not as bad as in 2006, because we kept after it.


There is an art to cleaning with the pool full.  In the shallow end you have to know the shape and direction and speed of the big lazy whirlpool effect that pulls water into the drain just upstream of the first set of stairs.  If you work together, and move with the direction of the curling current, and pace yourself with the speed of the current, you can really do some good.  In the deep end, too, if you stretch a long net and move it at the right pace, you can corral some algae.


So this year, the drought is broken, and streamflow is good.  We have had a couple of small flood events, so we could end up with another year like 2007, but let’s hope not.  Instead, let’s hope for a year when every time we get in the pool to clean, it will be drained, and we can do some of the really deep and thorough cleaning that will last a long time.

Spring cleaning starts March 1, and Service Chairman Jonathan Beall has scheduled volunteer days for March 4, 6, and 12.  The 6th is a Saturday, and will be part of Austin Parks Foundation’s It’s my park day.  The 12th is a Friday, the last cleaning day before the pool reopens for spring break.  We’ll have two-hour shifts heel and toe on each of those days.  So drop Jonathan an email an let’s get the pool really clean.


Write Jonathan at service@friendsofbartonspringspool.org.


Robin with State Rep. Elliott Naishtat

Robin, Andrea Rado & Jon Beall with State Rep. Elliott Naishtat

Quick Dips

Fun Chairman Clarke Hammond and Membership Chairman Karl Detjen resigned from the board.  We appreciate their service, and we’ll miss them.  We are now recruiting for those positions.


Several members of the board and the Barton Springs Plan Coordinating Committee met with State Representative Elliott Naishtat.  He promised to support us in our efforts to bring improvements to the pool.


Members of board and the committee also attended a stakeholders meeting hosted by the staff on January 28, where we launched the process for the general grounds improvements.  The general view was that improvements to water and electricity by the pool rank first, followed by landscaping, construction of the south access trail, and similar improvements, and finally the replacement of the chain link fence with wrought-iron.


We had a terrific turnout and great fun at the tree mulch-a-thon put on in cooperation with Austin Parks Foundation.  Thanks to Tau Beta Phi engineering students, Bowie HS Honor Society, Crockett HS Honor Society, and everyone.

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