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City Of Austin Pouring Money Into Caves

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 10:47 PM CDT

The City of Austin is about to dump $250,000 into caves in South Austin.

It's happening in a remote area off Davis and Deer Lane.  The caves are an Austin treasure -- and trouble.

"There are five cave sinkholes on this property," said City of Austin Hydrogeologist Nico Hauwert.

These caves in the Blowing Sink Balcones Canyonland Preserve have the attention of the Austin City Council.

Conservationists say the caves get plugged with mud during heavy rains and may collapse and would disturb the Barton Springs hydraulic connection.

"The water is very important because the water that goes into this trap goes to wells in this area," said Hauwert.

And the rest flows into Barton Springs.

There is another worry, trespassers who sometimes get caught in the caves.

So the city council wants to spend about $250,000 of your money to secure the caves with concrete chimneys.

"In order to keep the dirt from rushing in and clogging the drains the concrete chimneys are going to help keep the dirt out," Hauwert said.

The chimneys will also keep trespassers out.

But the cave ecosystems in Texas have survived for hundreds of years without man-made intervention, which raises the question of whether or not this is money well spent.

"I think this is a really good use of tax dollars for fixing the caves," Hauwert said.  "It's part of the regular maintenance needed to maintain the preserves to high quality.  The chimneys are going to be a permanent solution so every ten or 15 years we don't have to worry about these falling apart, the public falling down 100 foot shaft."

The work on the caves is expected to start sometime this summer.

By Walt Maciborski

City Of Austin Pouring Money Into Caves


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