SPRINGS: IS IT CONTAMINATED?
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.