Stories Behind the Story
David A. Johns
City of Austin, Hydrogeologist

Water and sediment testing by the City of Austin, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has detected a variety of urban contaminants in water and sediment in and around Barton Springs. Recent unprecedented press coverage of possible human health risks from swimming in Barton Springs pool prompted an extensive review of existing and newly collected water and sediment data from the pool area. The review focused primarily on metals and PAHs (products from the incomplete combustion of organic products), some of which are probable carcinogens. Potential contaminant sources were investigated and exposure pathways were examined to determine any risks. State and Federal agencies concluded “swimming in Barton Springs pool on a daily basis poses no apparent public health hazard.”