Austin Fire Department Looks to Make Barton Creek Greenbelt Safer
Austin Fire Department has been asked if there is anything more that could be done to keep Barton Creek Greenbelt safer.
According to KXAN, there's been four deaths since the end of May on Austin's Barton Creek Greenbelt. The latest being Thomas White, who fell 50 feet while hiking.
The three other deaths were swimming related. The rescue crews have been kept busy prompting the question of what more could be done to keep it safer.
Ed Scruggs of the Austin Public Safety Commission asked:
Is there anything we can do to keep people off or improve education or notification? And actually when you close the greenbelt, the water I think should be closed, from a public safety perspective.
So now the Public Safety Commissioners are asking the Austin Fire Department what more could be done. As of now there are no warning signs at trailheads when flows are considered dangerous. Plus, there's a $500 dollar citation to enter a closed waterway, and Scruggs suggest that amount be raised.
At present, the creek is closed when the water is moving at 1,500 cubic feet per second. Austins Fire Chief, Brian Tanzola, has stated that even below that threshold that the water can still be dangerous. But, he says:
Ultimately it goes back to personal accountability. Even if I have a sign posted that says at 1,200 cfm you should have some level of flotation device, I can’t enforce that effectively.
And the folks at Austin-Travis County EMS wants more signs and mile markers so people know where they are, and if they're in danger.
So it would seem that more signs and more common sense are needed. The city is expecting an After Action Report in the next six months that might have some suggestions.