A new ban is coming to a popular destination.
On Wednesday, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Police Department announced a new ban on alcohol consumption at the Barton Springs Spillway beginning on Tuesday, September 2. APD also announced that it will step up enforcement of existing city ordinances to help alleviate a recent spike in crime-related activities.
According to City of Austin spokesperson Patricia Fraga, APD has kept a close eye on crime rates at the spillway, which lies between Barton Springs Pool and Lady Bird Lake. “Over the last six months, including this summer, APD saw a 40 percent spike in crime-related activities compared to last year,” Fraga tells CultureMap. “That includes theft, excessive alcohol use and drug-related activities.”
Until the alcohol ban goes into effect on September 2, Fraga says that visitors will be issued a warning if they are caught consuming alcohol at the spillway.
APD will also start cracking down more on existing city ordinances that ban smoking in Austin parks and require all dogs to be on a leash. However, the City of Austin also plans to change the current ordinance that bans swimming in the spillway, recognizing that it is a popular spot for many visitors to cool off.
“The City will look into amending that ordinance, but the Parks Department will still warn visitors to the spillway that there will be no lifeguard on duty and that water levels can heavily fluctuate. They also don’t test water quality as regularly as more popular areas,” Fraga says.
Even with the recent announcements regarding the Barton Springs Spillway, it should be business as usual at the swimming hole. “The City is not doing that much differently outside of the alcohol ban. We’re just looking to remind people that this is a city park, and this is an effort to educate the public on what to expect when they come to the spillway.”