Barton Springs, Austin's landmark pool that has chilled generations even in the hottest Texas summers, is in trouble. It's not trouble that can't be fixed, but it will require time and money.
Time, as in closing the pool for six to eight months. Money, as in almost $5 million the city doesn't have.
The Austin American-Statesman is reporting on a city memo that says the underground tunnel that diverts dirty creek water around the pool has developed a dozen or so cracks and holes.
Workers have been throwing bricks in the holes to plug them, but amazingly this is seen as only a short-term solution.
Fixing it permanently will be a bigger job.
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A fix good enough for 10 years would cost about $2.5 million; one that would last 75 years would be $4.7 million. Which doesn't sound like all that much in these days of tossing around stimulus money like Christmas cookies, but Austin is in a tough budgetary spot. Essentially, the memo says officials have no idea how to come up with the money.
There's no timetable on when repairs might take place. It being Austin, there is a bizarre ecological angle to be considered: The pool would have to be largely drained for repairs, and that might impact the flow of water needed to protect the endangered Barton Springs salamander. (What about the endangered ripped UT frat-boy showing off his pecs? Who's thinking about him?)
The salamander means the feds will be involved, so any action is probably a long way off. In the meantime, officials say, it's perfectly safe to swim in the springs. As long as the city has enough bricks to keep plugging the holes.