Environmental Assessments of Barton Springs Pool and Barton Creek
Barton Springs Pool: Safe for Swimmers
In January 2003, the city of Austin asked the Texas Department of Health (TDH; now the Department of State Health Services) to conduct a health consultation on Barton Springs Pool due to concerns raised about possible contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
After evaluating analytical data collected by the city of Austin, the TCEQ, and the U.S. Geological Survey, TDH determined that Barton Springs Pool is safe for swimming and issued a formal report on this topic. In an April 17, 2003, letter to the city of Austin, the TCEQ concurred with TDH’s findings
What are PAHs? PAHs are a family of compounds that are formed during the incomplete combustion of wood, coal, gas, garbage, or other organic materials. Some PAHs are classified as probable human carcinogens, meaning prolonged exposure to sufficient levels of these compounds can increase the risk of developing cancer.
Studies by the TCEQ
Assessment of Contamination and Its Source
In response to concerns over contaminants found by the city of Austin in sediments that had been collected near Barton Creek, the TCEQ worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess both the extent of contamination in the area and the source of the contaminants. Information from this study is available in PDF files (help with PDF):
- Sampling Plan (technical description of how and where samples were taken)
- TCEQ Report: An Investigation of Contaminated Soils and Sediments in the Barton Creek Area
- Contract Laboratory’s Data from Chemical Analyses. Note: This file is in executable (EXE) format. Downloading and opening the file will produce several PDF files that contain the actual data. (Help with Downloading Files.)
Impacts of Contaminants on Aquatic Organisms
The initial data prompted the TCEQ, in conjunction with the EPA, to evaluate the potential toxicity of these sediments to aquatic organisms that live in and on the sediments. A study of the pool itself is complete. A study of Barton Creek is planned.
Barton Springs Pool. Information from this study is available in PDF files.
Barton Creek. Information from this study is available in PDF files.
- TCEQ Report: Assessment of Sediment Toxicity in Barton Creek