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Barton Springs Pool to reopen after drilling clouds water

Barton Springs Pool will reopen Saturday. The City of Austin closed the pool Wednesday due to cloudy water. They now know that cloudiness was caused by drilling. (CBS Austin)

Barton Springs Pool will reopen Saturday. The City of Austin closed the pool Wednesday due to cloudy water. They now know that cloudiness was caused by drilling.

City officials say sediment was discharging into the pool due to a well being drilled in the Barton Springs Zone of the Edwards Aquifer.

Pool staff first noticed an unusual murkiness to the water Tuesday followed by a bright white substance spreading through the pool for about three hours Wednesday.

"There was a very substantial white plume that started coming out of the cave -- so the main springs itself -- underneath the diving board into the pool," explains Thain Maurer, environmental compliance specialist with the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department.

Late Thursday investigators identified a nearby drilling operation impacting the water. The operation did have a permit from the conservation district but something went wrong, but what exactly -- the city won't say.

"Something happened during the drilling process that caused a failure that allowed sediment to get into the springs," Maurer says.

Throughout the week city staff collected water samples. Friday afternoon tests revealed sand and rock powders are what's been clouding the water. Additional tests show the pool water contains an elevated level of calcium but city staff say swimmers are not at risk.

"All of our indicators are it's safe to swim, so we are reopening the pool," Maurer says.

The city has issued a stop work order for the drilling. Those responsible have been cited for "discharge of sediment from a construction site."

Barton Springs Pool reopens at 5 a.m. Saturday.

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