Mystery of draining River Walk solved

Lowered water level was in anti­cipation of storms


SAN ANTONIO - A mysterious drop in the water level on the River Walk downtown Sunday is now being explained as a planned response to expected storm runoff.

Photos posted on Facebook from Sunday show the water level in the downtown River Walk substantially lower.

Later, in a video posted on Facebook, the water is shown rushing back, making it tough for boats.

"As you can see, the current is moving quite quickly here at Lexington,” the voice on the Facebook video said. “The boat is in full throttle and yet we go nowhere."

On Wednesday, everything was back to normal, but some people were still wondering what happened.

Rio San Antonio Cruises President JoAnn Boone said her drivers reported the water level problems.

"It was receding and so they pull over for safety,” Boone said. “They inform their passengers, 'Hey, we're not happy that the waters are receding.'"

She said the water changes were more curious than concerning.

"Our fleet was fine,” Boone said. “The water came back about an hour later to its normal level."

On Easter Sunday, crowds along the River Walk were fairly sparse. Among the folks working there, many did not even notice the river going down.

Jose Sanchez was working at a restaurant and saw the lower water level.

"It made me wonder when they're going to drain it and clean it,” Sanchez said. “That's what came to my mind. I was like, 'Are they going to start draining it or something?'"

On Wednesday, the city solved the mystery in an email sent by Interim Downtown Operations Manager Jim Mery.

The email stated: “I am in meetings today and was asked to provide this information to you concerning the rain event on Sunday. The river was not drained. Water levels were temporarily lower than normal as a result of flood control procedures due to a rain event in the area. Water levels were returned to normal by early morning.”

When questioned further, Mery clarified in another email, where he wrote: “The rain event was in the downtown area and caused the implementation of our usual procedure for flood control. Yes the river level was lowered in response to heavy rain reported in the Brackenridge park area. Standard flood control procedures were followed yesterday and today in response to the rain events which include lowering and raising the flood gate.”

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