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San Antonio River Gets A Good Spring Cleaning

Native San Antonians and tourists alike flock to the River Walk for dining and recreation. But during the off season, every couple years the San Antonio River Authority drains the waterway, and that’s taking place right now along the city’s River Walk and Museum Reach. 

The river may temporarily look odd, but come this time next week, officials say it will look better than ever.

On Monday Robert Cornue says he’s come to the River Walk's Lock and Dam near Brooklyn Avenue to avoid the tourists. He knew about the draining of the river, but this is the first time he’s seen it.

"It’s a necessary thing to do. The muck gets caught up. Before you know it the fish don’t have any place to swim. I saw them scooping little minnows out and putting them in a bucket to save them. Thought that was kind of cool," he says.

The San Antonio River Authority's Tommy Mithcell says, "Here, we’re primarily putting forth a big effort for fish relocation. We’re relocating the native fish."

While relocating fish is not the main purpose of draining the river, Mitchell says an effort is made to move fish, mostly bass, that won’t survive while the water is low. He says the main reasons for draining is to remove muck and check equipment that’s usually underwater.

"It’s primarily for preventative maintenance," Mitchell says. "It also gives us a chance to look at silt and sediment that’s accumulated in the channel. This entire section- flood control is its main purpose."

Mitchell says aside from some water from creeks, the river runs relatively dry from Josephine, past downtown’s restaurants to South Alamo. And a lot more than fish is unearthed.

"Watches, cell phones, rings, vehicle parts," he says.

By Friday night though, the river will be flowing as normal--watches, cell phones, and sediment removed.