July 2018 President’s Report


So it has been awhile since I sat down and put pen to paper and wrote one of these, so I have a bit of catching up to do.  First off, we have been really successful with our efforts to enlist corporate or team sponsors to participate in our volunteer pool cleaning events.  For the past couple of years Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company(ABGB) and BRC Recovery, have had a team of 15-20 volunteers every month.  Wholefoods had a team last year and really stepped up this year with a team of 30 in May followed up with a team of 10 in June.  They also made donation to allow us to invest in the consumables for cleaning, and will be one of our sponsors for our next FBSP t-shirt donation drive. June also had a big turnout from ACL Live.  FYI: We offer our t-shirts, towels and other apparel for donations that are used for tools and other equipment used at the pool.  Having the tools to efficiently and safely do the cleaning is essential to our volunteer cleaning success.

For as long as FBSP has been in existence, we have based our efforts on inside and outside the fence activities that we support.  Our primary objective has been to focus our energies on inside the fence efforts, like cleaning algae from the pool, planting trees, planting aquatic plants, and keeping all the invasive plants in and around the pool under control.  This is a never ending job that our volunteers take on with a passion that always makes one proud to be a Friend of Barton Springs Pool.

Another equally important objective is supporting outside the fence activities that for the most part are driven by the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan.  Things  like the recently-completed Day Lighting of Eliza, advocating for the Bathhouse Rehabilitation Project, advocating for funding a feasibility study for upgrading the upper/lower dams, advocating for bond funding for parks and open space protection, and Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funding for historic preservation — all of these causes have an impact on how we as friends continue to insure that Barton Springs Pool is here for folks to enjoy for the next generation of swimmers.  As members of FBSP, I implore all of you to find a way to support these efforts by writing the mayor and council in support, or getting involved with our board to advocate for these causes.  We need your help and we cannot do it without you.

I was fashionably late in getting settled into my routine of a daily sunrise swim at the pool, but as of Sun (6/24), I am back!  Whenever I rekindle this routine at the pool, I kick myself for not getting my butt out of bed and getting my daily pool fix sooner. My ritual is to swim with a mask and snorkel for one lap, checking out the plants and fish and occasionally picking up litter that catches my eye, and then top it off with one dive, and one jump off the diving board.  This year’s routine includes a variation of inspecting and brushing algae off the 4 cages that have been planted with aquatic plants in the pool.  We are on the 4th round of trying to successfully introduce aquatic plants into the pool, I see some green inside at least 2 of the 4 cages so it could be we are on the right path….  I will keep you updated when we remove the cages and see what has survived.  Another very important part of my morning ritual is just sitting, people watching, enjoying another amazing sunrise, letting the morning sun dry me off, and relishing in that core cooling effect that the pool has on you.  This is a time when I sometimes engage in conversation with anyone that is within earshot, there is a lively group of us “south side by the diving board regulars” that seem to really enjoy sharing our daily experiences.  We are not alone in this activity at the pool, and if you take notice, there are little pockets of folks all around doing the very same thing. It is a part of a regular routine that never gets old so if you are out and about at the pool around sunrise come on by and say hi!

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, FBSP President

Patriotic Pool Cleaning — July 5, 2018 (9am – 3pm)!!!!

At this great place we call Barton Springs,
the waters flow cool, clear and clean,
but to show our love true,
wear your red, white, and blue,
and join in with our pool cleaning team!

On this Fourth of July holiday, join us Friends of Barton Springs Pool on Thursday, July 5 for one or more of our two-hour shifts, starting at 9:00, 11:00 and 1:00.  There is no better way to provide community service than doing a refreshing day of volunteer work to keep Barton Springs Pool the best that it can be.  Help “give back” to Barton Springs by volunteering with one of our projects — including push-brooming the pool bottom of the shallow end, scrubbing algae from the sides, rails, and stairs, helping with landscape efforts to beautify the grounds with weeding, turning the mulch, and generally lending a hand to make the pool and grounds as clean and beautiful as possible. So come roll up your sleeves, bring a friend, have a snack and enjoy the comp any of other Barton Springs enthusiasts. We look look forward to seeing you there!

South Lawn Sticky Burr (Soliva Sessilis)


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.

Steve Barnick
FBSP President


Aquatic Planting at Barton Springs Pool – Third Time’s a Charm?


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 president@friendsofbartonspringspool.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

Give 5% to Mother Earth Day

It’s time, Friends! TODAY, April 20, is Give 5% to Mother Earth Day, and once again FBSP is proud to participate in this Earth Day campaign that raises funds and awareness for nine nonprofits working to protect and preserve our Central Texas environment.  Now in its 9th year, our generous local business sponsors for Give 5 Day will pledge to donate 5% of gross sales on April 20 to the Give 5 fund, which is split equally between all nine of our nonprofit beneficiaries, including FBSP.  So click the link above to find out where to eat, drink and shop to support the environment today (April 20)!  You will be supporting some great local businesses, as well as helping keep our environment clean, our parks tidy, our springs pristine, our trees aplenty, our open spaces preserved, and so much more!  #austingive5 #eatshopplay

FBSP President’s Message — April 2018

President plants peck on plastic Anas platyrhynchos!


Our year of volunteering at the pool officially started with It’s My Park Day on Sat(3/3) where we had an amazing group of volunteers that got the chance to work on a weekend.  We were able to distribute several yards of mulch, did some amazing ligustrum removal in the area behind the diving board, and all the gardens got some much needed TLC.  The pool was partially drawn down which was a treat for our volunteers to see the springs exposed.  Our April 5 cleaning will be the first Thursday cleaning of 2018, and we are excited to help with reducing algae, and do whatever it takes to put a shine on the pool.

We are advocating for a lot of little projects inside the fence this year, including planting more trees, and our Advocacy Chair (Nelson Guda) is spearheading this effort.  We attended a meeting with the team of folks replanting aquatic plants in the pool, and from what we learned after our 2nd attempt to make this work, we are optimistic we will find the right protocol for future planting success.  There is also a wall that is degrading near the pump station on the north side and the sediment accumulation at the bypass tunnel entrance that we are going to inquire about what can be done.  As always, our volunteer efforts are the main mechanism to learn about the pool, raise awareness to any issues we encounter, and advocate for changes to make the pool the best it can be.

On Tuesday, April 3, the Bathhouse rehabilitation design discussion was kicked off, and for me personally and for FBSP as a group advocating for the pool, this is a proud moment in moving forward what was laid down in the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan.  The bathhouse project was a main topic of the BSP MP in 2009, and was also addressed extensively in the Feasibility Study in 2016 where all the challenges that entangle any development at BSP were documented.  And now in 2018, we are going to embark on developing a design for the bathhouse that will insure its place in landscape of BSP for the next 50-70 years.  We encourage all our members to get involved in this process!!  This is the time to speak out about your concerns, issues, and what you think is important about the bathhouse. To find out more about this project or sign up for project updates you can visit the website (http://www.austintexas.gov/bartonspringsbathhouse).   If you wish to comment to me at (president@friendsofbartonspringspool.org), I would love to hear from you and carry your message the best I can as we advocate for the best design we can.

We are anxiously awaiting Give5 to Mother Earth Day on Friday (April 20), the fundraiser for Austin’s environmental non-profits, including FBSP.  At last count, we had over 200 businesses signed up to dedicate 5% of their sales to the fundraising effort.  If you want to know more about this and who the sponsors are that are participating go to https://austingive5.org/.

Have you swam at the pool lately?  Before our large downpour at the end of March, the spring flow was on a steady decline to about 45cfs, and with the onslaught of spring weather, we are experiencing an algae bloom at the pool.  Thankfully, with that 3-5 ” of rain, the spring flow is up to just shy of 70 cfs.  This will help with stripping the algae from the surfaces of the pool and allow it to move on down the creek.  If you ever want to know about pool flow or the latest about the aquifer, check out the links on the right side of our website to see the USGS Barton Springs Weekly Water Flow and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District.

And last but not least, we have been a supporter of the efforts to replace the tile facade at the Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater with a mural by the team headed by Wanda Montemayor.  If you do not already know about her work, check out the murals at Deep Eddy, and Barton Hills Elementary. I hope to have some of the concepts in our display case soon. So check them out and if you get a chance add your support to this effort.

See you at the pool,

Steve Barnick, FBSP President