AUSTIN (KXAN) — Heavy rain on Monday filled creeks across Austin, causing flooding in some areas. The rising water also pushed trash from some creeks into Lady Bird Lake.
“It is just filthy, it is just awful,” said a man walking by the lake.
Trash could be seen building up in areas where creeks meet Lady Bird Lake.
“It is just a safety hazard as well,” said a man walking his dog. “It is not clean.”
The City’s Watershed Protection Department has crews that clean the creeks and lake on a regular basis, but with no rain in recent weeks, the trash in some creeks built up.
In Waller Creek, the city has a facility called the Waller Creek Tunnel which collects trash before it enters Lady Bird Lake. The facility also helps control the flow of water, which has helped to stop flooding in the area.
“It is very efficient as far as flood control,” said Thomas Guerra with the Watershed Protection Department.
In the past, debris and trash could block the creek, but now water flows through metal grates and the trash gets caught. That trash is then picked up by a large claw-like piece of machinery, and then it’s grinded up and compacted. Finally, the debris filled with trash is taken to a local landfill.
“It gives us an opportunity here to pick up the debris and not contribute into the lake,” said Guerra. “Since the opening of the tunnel is has not gone over the bank.”
The city said from October 2021 to June of this year, they have picked up about 22 tons of trash from Lady Bird Lake.
The city partners with community groups for lake cleanups, but they also put on six large scale cleanups a year to clean the lake.
The city said you should stay out of Lady Bird Lake for at least three days after heavy rain because of the potential for harmful pollutants.