This summer the City of Austin will be completing some maintenance work at the Great Northern Dam site. Expect bright orange fencing to appear near the top of the detention pond (the easternmost pond on the site). Much of the grass and vegetation in this area has been damaged both due to the prolonged drought and from being trampled on by people and dogs. The fence is to discourage foot traffic in this area and give the vegetation a chance to recover. The grass in this area is critical for the dam to remain in good condition.
Watershed Protection Department field crews will also complete some minor regrading work to provide positive drainage to the ponds.
In addition, the temporary irrigation system for the new trees is being removed. After two years, these trees should now be established and able to survive without supplemental watering. The trees are all native to the area or species that are adapted to our dry climate.
This site is owned and maintained by the Watershed Protection Department to help reduce flooding and improve the water quality of Shoal Creek. Like other stormwater ponds, the site is mowed three to four times a year. Because the neighborhood has requested wildflowers at the site, the spring mowing has generally been skipped to allow the wildflowers to reseed naturally.
Although the primary purpose of the site is for managing stormwater, the Watershed Protection Department is happy to make this greenspace available for walking, biking, bird watching and for dogs to play. For your safety and to maintain the dam in good condition, we do request that you stay on the sidewalks and be careful of the steep slopes. Do not allow your pets to play in the ponds. The pond closest to Great Northern Blvd. is a water quality pond. This pond was designed to capture pollutants from stormwater runoff, and prevent them from entering Shoal Creek. Because of the potential presence of unhealthy contaminants, it is not safe for humans or dogs to swim in this pond. Also, please help the water quality pond do its job by picking up after your dog.
Another important safety precaution is to avoid the area when it is raining or soon after heavy rains. The ponds will fill up rapidly during storms and there will be strong currents near the culverts and possibly over the concrete spillway. If water starts to flow into the ponds when you are present, leave immediately.
If the site needs maintenance, please call 3-1-1 to report the situation. The only exception is for graffiti. The Allandale Neighborhood Association has graciously volunteered to paint over graffiti at this particular site, and the City of Austin has supplied the neighborhood association with paint that matches the color of the walls.
We hope you continue to enjoy this greenspace!
Public Information Specialist Senior,
City of Austin, Watershed Protection Department