River Walk drained for cleaning, maintenance

SAN ANTONIO – For a long time, draining the San Antonio River Walk was a new year's tradition.

But it's been five years since the city completely emptied the river for cleaning and maintenance.

"In 2010 and 2011, we did a large two-year project. We removed over 8 tons of sediment," said April Luna, public relations manager for Transportation and Capital Improvements at the city of San Antonio.

That project allowed the city to put off cleaning until 2014, when it did a partial drain. This year, the San Antonio River Authority needed to do maintenance work on the Brooklyn Street lock and dam, so the city took advantage of the opportunity to do a deep clean.

The River Walk from Josephine Street to Alamo Street started emptying Sunday at 11 p.m. The normal depths of 3 to 12 feet were down to ankle deep at most by Monday morning.

The project exposed bottles, cans and even larger debris like chairs.

"That's why we do have the opportunity to do minor cleaning whenever we do drain the river. We do find some things along the river. Sometimes we find some bottles. But this is the opportunity to make sure that we can clean and remove all that debris," Luna said.

Linda and Richard Lohaus were visiting from Denver and got their first glimpse of the River Walk Monday morning.

"This is on my bucket list to see. It's beautiful. Since we haven't been here before, we don't know what it was like," Linda Lohaus said.

River levels should be back to normal by next Monday.