Barton Springs


An Austin City Council committee is recommending that Barton Springs Pool waive admissions fees for a select group of residents: those 80 years and older.

Though it was free for them before — sort of.

Austin History Center

Barton Springs has always been a popular Austin haunt. Its cooling waters have provided respite to many seeking shelter from the Central Texas sun — the Comanche and Tonkawa long considered the springs a sacred place.

City of Austin, via YouTube

From the Austin Monitor:

Barton Springs is the only known home to the endangered and federally protected Barton Springs and Austin Blind salamanders. Unfortunately for these unique creatures, the level of life-sustaining dissolved oxygen in their ecosystem has dropped on average over the past 35 years.

Watershed Protection Department engineer Abel Porras brought the issue to the Wednesday meeting of the Environmental Board, noting that water flow in the Edwards Aquifer is a major determining factor in the equation, though man-made contaminants may also play a role.

Update: Council approved a study to turn the Barton Springs Pool spillway into a city park.

Original Post (Aug. 27, 2014): The Austin City Council will consider whether or not to turn the "free side" of Barton Springs Pool – some call it "Barking Springs" – into a city park.

A proposal from Council Member Chris Riley on tomorrow's agenda calls for studying the idea of turning the spillway that bridges the springs and Lady Bird Lake into an off-leash dog park, as well as allowing swimming there. Riley's resolution would direct City Manager Marc Ott to ask the Parks and Recreation Board and the Animal Advisory Commission what city code would need to be changed to make the park a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Austin Police Department banned drinking at the spillway after a rise in crime in the Barton Springs and Zilker Park areas.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Skroks are here. They're a youthful, all-male brass band in town from one of Austin's sister cities, Angers, France.

So what brings an overseas band to Austin? Exactly what appeals to young bands across the world: touring, playing music and meeting fans.

Flickr user David Ingram,

Mount Bonnell and Barton Springs are two of Austin's eternal treasures –unblemished reminders of Austin's natural beauty.

But to a handful of reviewers on Yelp, they're totally overrated.

Mount Bonnell's scenic overlook rates a solid four stars on Yelp; Austin's crown jewel, Barton Springs Pool, clocks in at four-and-a-half.  But proving you can't please everyone, a collection of contrary reviews offer an antithetical take on these two Austin institutions.

Ben Johnson

Many people the world over are inspired by the 'Austin sound.' But Dallas native and composer Ben Johnson found his inspiration in the sounds of Austin. Literally.

In fact, "The Sounds of Austin, Texas" is the title of his new album – a collection of impressionistic pieces inspired by his adopted hometown, where he studied music in college. Johnson considers his latest album a collection of love songs to Austin. 

Johnson mixes field audio recordings from sites all over the Austin area with his own custom piano compositions, each dedicated to a particular place.  

I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

Swimmers and salamanders can continue their peaceful coexistence at Barton Springs Pool.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is granting the City of Austin a new 20-year permit, keeping the pool open to the public while protecting the habitats of both the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin wants to hear from people who use the city’s pools and splash pads – and from those who don’t.

The city is putting together an assessment of its aquatics facilities. The average age of one in Austin is about 40 years old.


Austin’s summer swimming season is underway, despite a recent drowning.

The first drowning at Barton Springs pool in 23 years happened last Wednesday, when lifeguards failed to resuscitate a 21-year-old at the popular swimming pool. Thirteen lifeguards were on duty when Andrew Guerra, who had been racing with friends, went under. 

Barton Springs Pool

The Austin Parks and Recreations Department is reviewing policies and procedures after an apparent drowning at Barton Springs Pool Wednesday night. It was the first drowning at the pool since 1990.

Parks and Recreation spokesperson Victor Ovalle said lifeguards immediately administered CPR on 21-year-old Timothy Guerra when his friends removed him from the spring's deep end.

Flickr, Wally Gobetz

Barton Springs Pool is reopening Sunday after a few days of clean-up.

The pool had to be closed on Tuesday because of Barton Creek run-off from this week’s rain storm.

The pool had reopened just last weekend after being closed since December for repair and renovation work.

KUT News

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the repairs to the bypass tunnel and dam at Barton Springs Pool was part of the Master Plan process.

Barton Springs Pool is scheduled to reopen this Saturday.

The swimming hole has been closed since December, as the city made repairs to the pool's bypass tunnel and the dam on the downstream side of the pool.

KUT News

Save Our Springs Ordinance Celebrates Twenty Years

20 years ago today, Austin voters approved a historic ordinance that changed the way the city handles growth.  The Save Our Springs water quality ordinance marked the first in a series of battles between environmentalists and developers.

A proposed development project by the international mining company Freeport McMoRan catalyzed a grassroots movement to protect the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs.

The Save Our Springs group gathered signatures and drafted an ordinance that limited construction along the Edwards Aquifer such that only 15 percent or less of the land could be paved.  The ordinance was put on the ballot and voters passed it.

Local West Nile Virus Case Confirmed

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirms there have been 32 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease in Texas so far this year. One case has been confirmed in Travis County.  The individual has been hospitalized.

The neuroinvasive form of the disease can affect a person’s brain or spinal cord, and can be fatal. The first deadly case of the disease was confirmed in Texas earlier this month, but there are reports of as many as three deaths in the state. West Nile virus, carried by mosquitoes, causes the disease.

West Nile fever, also caused by the virus, is generally considered less serious because it does not invade the nervous system. The CDC reports that roughly half the cases that states have reported so far this year are of the the more serious form of the disease.

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The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has temporarily shut off the water to Emma Long Metropolitan Park to make repairs.

The park is still open for use but all restrooms, showers, drinking fountains and water utilities for camping are all out of order. The city is providing extra portable restrooms.

The repairs are expected to be complete in early August.

KUT Staff

Recent rains have caused flooding and debris to accumulate in Barton Springs Pool.

The city's Parks and Recreation Aquatic Division has temporarily closed the pool “due to flooding conditions,” according to a press release. No reopening date has been issued.

Staff must wait for rains to stop – not a problem we often have in Austin – before they can remove debris, clean the pool and assess its condition. 

Image courtesy

Tonight’s your chance to help shape the direction of Barton Springs Pool.

Possible changes to areas around the beloved swimming hole will be heard at a joint committee meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board and Environmental Board this evening. And the public is invited to attend the meeting and sound off on the proposals.

The meeting is focused on the proposed Barton Springs Pool Master Plan. Aspects of the plan include options for a new south entry gate, a new ticket booth at south gate, a new perimeter fence, and more.

Photo by KUT News

Barton Springs Pool Reopens Today

After being closed for a week, Barton Springs Pool will reopen today. The famously frigid swimming hole was closed on March 20 due to flooding after last week’s heavy rain.

The pool's hours of operation are from 5 a. m. to 10 p. m. Normally the pool is only open for limited hours on Thursdays due to cleaning, but this Thursday the pool will stay open all day.

Undefeated Baylor Women's Team Makes NCAA Final Four

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

You like Barton Springs Pool? So does a small, endangered amphibian. But unlike you, the Barton Springs Salamander is legally protected by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. If the city wants to keep operating the pool, it needs to renew a permit with the federal government that explains how Austin will protect the slithery little creature.

The current permit was issued in 1998 and based on this Habitat Conservation Plan. That permit expires in October 2013. But the review process takes a long time, so the city wants to submit its application soon to stave off closing Barton Springs Pool, even temporarily.