The Antioch Cave VIDEO CLIP
As part of National Groundwater Awareness week, we wanted to tell you about an important water feature in our own backyard. The Antioch Cave is a natural cave that formed in the bottom of Onion Creek and it contributes to the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
“We’re standing right above the Antioch Cave.”
Below a concrete vault in Onion Creek is a hidden treasure."
“It’s a natural cave that formed in the bottom of Onion Creek, which is this nice creek we’re looking at here,” said Brian Smith with the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District.
Smith says about twenty years ago they realized the significance of the cave. It’s located off of Cole Springs Road on land owned by the conservation district.
“Under natural conditions water is flowing down the creek and heading on down to the Colorado River. Some of that water actually goes into the cave. Once it gets into the cave it is contributing to the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Eventually that water, if it is not being pumped by users, it is making its way to Barton Springs.This all ties in to all these things going on around us. The quarry right next door uses Edwards water, houses down the street from here use Edwards water, the City of Buda. Within a mile of where we are there is a lot of use.”
“Approximately half of the water produced for consumption by the City of Buda comes from the Edwards. The Edwards aquifer is a karst aquifer that is recharged from precipitation and streams flowing into cracks, fissures, sinkholes, and caves. This makes the Edward Aquifer particularly prone to pollutants and contaminants from directly entering the aquifer.”
That’s why it was important to improve the quality and amount of water making its way into the aquifer from the Antioch Cave. In 1997 the initial vault was constructed to do just that.
“So this vault was designed by an engineer we hired to allow the water to be kept out during storm floods," said Smith. "When that water is coming down brown and ugly looking carrying sediment and other contaminants that water just goes on by because we shut these valves. Now they are set so they automatically close under those conditions. Within a day or two that water is much better quality and the valve naturally opens. Then we get the good quality we see now. We can sit back in our office and monitor the conditions and we need to come out and maintain something we are 10 to 12 minutes away. This is a real important feature and what we are doing here with this improving, or maybe even getting back to the conditions before people were living out there and causing the runoff from all the highways, ranches and subdivisions.”
“Several of the city’s wells are located within one to two miles of this unique feature, which is why we ask all citizens to be mindful of the pollutants and chemicals that they use around their homes. We ask them to use best management practices and not over fertilize their lawn and be mindful of fertilizer that spills out on the sidewalk or out in the streets because this could end up directly in to our drinking water supply.”