City investigates possible pollution in Shoal Creek

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin is examining a section of Shoal Creek after advocates noticed the water was murky.

“When I first saw it I thought: ‘Oh, it’s just temporary, it’s a construction project,'” said Kathy Marcus, who lives near Shoal Creek.

Marcus first noticed the cloudy and sometimes brown water in Shoal Creek in January, but the condition didn’t go away quickly. Marcus kept coming back, and she kept seeing water that appeared muddy.

“I walked in again and it was just as bad, if not worse,” said Marcus.

The section of Shoal Creek appearing murky is to the east of the 15-story Shoal Creek Walk office development currently going in between Fifth and Sixth Streets in Downtown Austin. KXAN News contacted Richard Duggan with Schlosser Development Corporation Monday, but he declined to comment for this story.

Marcus says she called the city. An Austin Watershed Protection Department spokesperson says the Pollution Prevention and Reduction section has the area of Shoal Creek near the development under investigation. However, the city did not provide further details.

“Fish use gills to breathe and when you have sediment trapping their gills, they can’t breath, they also can’t see food,” said Joanna Wolaver, executive director of the Shoal Creek Conservancy.

Wolaver says she believes increased sediment in the water is from construction and would like to see the creek clear up. Changes could already be underway. Water flowing into the creek ran clear Monday. However, other parts remained cloudy.

Wolaver says sediment pollution can increase erosion and points out that Shoal Creek also flows into Lady Bird Lake. Wolaver said she believes some remediation efforts have begun. However, the city was not able to immediately confirm whether cleanup was in progress.

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