Zero flow? KSAT visits Garner State Park to get firsthand look at Frio River conditions

Parts of Frio River still open for swimming, but low water flow leaving many areas dry

The Frio remains one of the most popular river destinations in the area, but stretches of the river have rocky patches where water normally flows at this time of year.

SAN ANTONIO – Many South Texas rivers appear to be drying up during the current drought and heat wave.

The Frio remains one of the most popular river destinations in the area, but stretches of the river have rocky patches where water normally flows at this time of year.

“We’ve had a dry season and the rains are not coming around quite as often,” said Brett Rimkus, Garner State Park concessionaire and medic.

A KSAT crew visited the Frio River on Thursday to get a firsthand look at the water conditions.

One of the most popular areas at Garner State Park is near the river dam. It still has water flowing and deep pockets where people can swim, take a pedal boat on the water or a standup paddle board.

“We’re still getting flow here. There are springs that go up and down this river, but fill it in as it goes along the way,” said Rimkus. “Right now, you’re looking at an area of the dam which is flowing still at 25 percent.”

The US Geological Survey on Friday recorded a river flow at Concan of 0.5 cubic feet per second or CFS. The USGS noted that the flow rate was at an all-time low for the date.

“That’s where the river kind of goes underneath the rocks. It pops back up below that and goes there. But there are spots that are dry and that’s where they’re taking a gauge,” said Rimkus. “There’s a lot of places where the river goes on top of surface water, and there are some places that actually have an underground river. The CFS that we’ve had kind of had headlined is down below Concan. There is a spot there that it was not flowing.”

Rimkus said while there are still open swimming areas, current drought conditions have affected people’s plans to go tubing.

“Ideal tubing conditions is probably 50 to 75, even up to 100 cubic feet per second,” said Rimkus. “The tubing has not been in its prime for tubing stretches. But as far as people leaving this area, everybody’s had a wonderful time and glad they came out.”

The Nueces County River Authority recently tested the Frio River at three sites and despite low water flow, officials say the river is safe to swim in and bacteria levels are currently not a concern.

“We got a good rain last week of anywhere from 1 to 4 inches in our area and in the surrounding areas. It did help us out a lot for mid-summer,” said Rimkus.

Rimkus added that one good downpour will help get things back to normal and park officials have not closed any areas along the Frio due to the drought and water flow being the lowest in more than 10 years.

“We’re not as bad as in 2011,” said Rimkus. “There’s lots of these places that have deep water in them, deep pockets, the water still flowing. You may not get the tubing in that you want, but there’s plenty of things to do in the area.”

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About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.