A babbling brook flows just west of the swimming pool. Photo by Kay Richter.
A babbling brook flows just west of the swimming pool. Photo by Kay Richter.

The storm comes, the storm goes. Storms bring destruction and life to our city.

A centuries-old oak tree in San Pedro Park was uprooted by storms in May. The same storms brought rain and lots of it, enough to awaken several springs in the park. For the first time in eight years, the San Pedro Springs are flowing again. Go experience the park and springs now.

My son and I used to fish for crawdads at the main spring north of the swimming pool. These crustaceans can survive periods of drought, only to reappear when springs resurface. In the memory of my childhood, the San Pedro Springs were always flowing.

In the ’20s, enough water flowed to completely flush the swimming pool at San Pedro Park three times every day, such as Barton Springs does today at Zilker Park in Austin. But the demand for water in San Antonio eventually caused our springs to flow more sporadically.

Visit the pool when you check out the spring flow. You won’t regret it! Photo by Kay Richter.
Families and friend play in the San Pedro Springs Pool. Photo by Kay Richter.

San Pedro Springs flowed for a few months in 1992, when the Edwards Aquifer stood at its recorded high level of 703.3 feet, and again in 1996 after heavy rains. The springs then entered a long dry period. The last time the San Pedro Springs really flowed tremendously was 2007.

Today, the crystal waters invite a dip, but a “No Swimming” sign discourages such a notion.

Before Francois P. Giraud became San Antonio’s mayor in 1872, he was the architect for the Ursuline Academy (now the Southwest School of Art), the original campus of St. Mary’s University (now the Omni La Mansion del Rio), and the 19th century ‘Gothicfication’ of San Fernando Cathedral. Even before all that, as city engineer, he furnished plans for the San Pedro Creek and its irrigation system. Records of early park development are sketchy so it is unknown what features he introduced.

Gregg Eckhardt said, “They last time they (San Pedro Springs) really flowed tremendously was 2007 when we saw levels of 690-700 feet.” Photo by Kay Richter.
Environmental scientist Gregg Eckhardt, who has been studying the Edwards Aquifer since 1972, said the aquifer must have a level of about 665-670 feet to get a minimal flow at San Pedro Springs. Photo by Kay Richter.

Did Giraud design the oval lagoon just northwest of the pool? The surface today is littered with debris but it doesn’t take much imagination to visualize a clear wading pool for children from another time.

The son of French immigrants, Giraud studied architecture in Paris. I wonder if the trail by the trickling brook, just west of the bathhouse, was another of Giraud’s features.

Picnickers today can cool their heels in the bubbling stream. A small stairway leads children to wade in the wetness, to marvel at their reflection against the sky, and to launch tiny ships as big as a five-year-old’s imagination.

Pay a visit to San Pedro Springs soon. The sparkling waters will nourish your soul and lift your spirits.

*Featured/top image: San Pedro Springs. Photo by Kay Richter.

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Don Mathis

Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...