Environmental protection measures to be taken during demolition

Senior News Reporter

The Clear Springs Apartments complex is set to be demolished in the coming months, and precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of the sensitive surrounding environment and river.

A fence was placed alongside the edge of the river last year to ensure sediment does not enter the river during demolition, said Juan Guerra, associate vice president of Facilities. The fence wraps across the length of the complex’s property adjacent to the river and around the Hillburn House, creating a “buffer zone,” Guerra said. A vegetative landscape will eventually be put along the fence line, he said.

Andreina Alexatos, resource and environmental studies graduate student and Environmental Service Committee member, said bags of hay have also been put in place to prevent runoff. Contractors are required to control the runoff from the construction site, Guerra said.

“They (contractors) make sure any loose dirt—and we’re going to have a lot of it—is all contained within shelf barriers,” Guerra said. “A storm water protection plan is in place to keep mud and silt and dirt from flowing off the side and into the river.”

Diane Wassenich, executive director of the San Marcos River Foundation, said poor construction practices could cause sediment to enter the river. There will be many times when bare dirt is exposed throughout Clear Springs’ demolition, she said, and sediment could wash into the river during rainstorms.

The city and the university have inspectors who will monitor the situation to prevent runoff, Wassenich said. Inspectors will give orders to “straighten up” and install the right kind of sediment control, or they will shut down the project, she said.

“We’re not anticipating that flow into the river because we’re going to make the contractor contain it,” Guerra said.

Any debris, sediment and pollutants carried off by water will be caught on site by the bags of hay put in place, Alexatos said.

Construction materials entering the air will be the “major danger” of the demolition, Alexatos said.

“The thing with Clear Springs is the construction materials,” Alexatos said. “Plasters, glass and who knows what else is involved in the actual construction of it.”

Many endangered species reside in the river, Guerra said, so the construction team will follow the Hays County Habitat Conservation Plan during demolition.

“By us taking measures to protect that habitat, we will protect the endangered species,” Guerra said. “We are very sensitive to what is going on, and we follow the requirements of the Habitat Conservation Plan that was approved by Edwards Aquifer.”