New signs warn of river dangers at Spring Lake Dam

Date of Release: 07/14/2005

SAN MARCOS—Texas State University-San Marcos and the City of San Marcos are collaborating in an attempt to better educate the public about life-threatening currents and undertows near the Spring Lake Dam on the San Marcos River.

On Wednesday, university workers began installing additional signs near the falls by Joe’s Crab Shack warning of the dangerous currents there. A 22-year-old Texas state student drowned at that location on April 22, and since that time, fire and rescue personnel have been called to the scene for six more water rescues.

The additional signs are being erected along the retaining wall of the by the river and portions of the wall itself – including the river-side of the wall – will carry warnings about the dangerous currents and undertows.

Sign in front of the falls in San Marcos River warning of danger
On Wednesday, Texas State University-San Marcos workers began installing additional signs near Joe’s Crab Shack warning of the life-threatening currents and undertows near the Spring Lake Dam on the San Marcos River. Photo by Don Anders.

As the new signs were being installed, an ad-hoc committee of university and city officials and San Marcos citizens held its first meeting to discuss measures to increase public safety in the waters near the dam. The group agreed that the most pressing need was for more signage warning of the dangerous currents, and recommended the signs specify where the danger is greatest and where it is moderate.

At this time, the committee did not recommend the construction of any exclusionary devices that would prevent public access to any part of the river, and committee members reaffirmed their desire to keep that part of the river open for recreational use by the public.

“We want our local citizens and visitors to San Marcos to have a pleasant river experience, so the river will remain open. We will not fence the area off and we will not close it,” said T. Cay Rowe, interim vice president of university advancement at Texas State. “But we also want to stress the importance of a safe river experience, and if people heed the warning signs, their experience on the San Marcos River can be safe and fun.”

San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell, also a member of the committee, said river rescues have been more numerous this year than in recent summers because of higher water levels in the Edwards Aquifer, which feeds the San Marcos River.

“We are seeing a combination of very high spring flow and very large numbers of people using the river. The currents and undertows are stronger than in the past because the river flow is so much greater. We may see that decline if the weather remains dry and spring flows decrease, but the flow is very strong right now,” said Bell.

Ralph Meyer, chief of the Texas State University Police Department, said his officers will be at the river from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. for the next several weekends handing out flyers to swimmers and tubers. The flyers warn of the dangerous currents around the dam and the falls and encourage river users to put safety first.

“We also hope that locals who know the river well will help by warning our out-of-town visitors that parts of this river, while very beautiful, can also be very dangerous,” Meyer said.
Firefighters with San Marcos Fire Rescue will also be on hand to visit with swimmers and support the safety message, said Fire Chief Mike Baker.