Rio Vista Falls Repairs Needed Following Flood Damage

header caution tape

Damage caused by past flooding, including the 2015 floods, is forcing the City of San Marcos to make emergency repairs to Rio Vista Dam and Falls. Rio Vista Falls is a popular swimming spot for locals and tourists. As the weather warms up, the parks department is warning the public to use caution until repairs are made.

“The full extent of these damages may not be revealed until repairs begin,” said Parks Operations Manager Bert Stratemann. “We are notating the area of most concern with caution tape in the short term, but are in the process of erecting secure fencing.”

The recommended improvements are based on an onsite review by Recreation Engineering and Planning (REP) in December of 2018.  Since 2015, engineers from REP have been performing regular inspections of the bank stabilization areas and of the Rio Vista dam and falls.

On a recent inspection, engineers determined that there are several areas below the second and third drops that may pose a safety risk and require repairs. As a result, the City is currently going through an emergency permitting process with state and federal agencies to begin the repairs.

Caution tape blocking access to river
Caution tape tied to a pole with river in the background

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the lead federal agency and will coordinate with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for permitting.   The City will be requesting emergency permitting from the USACE based on the public safety, and will independently approach all state agencies to confirm permit requirements.  

This project will be submitted for permitting to the following federal and state agencies:

  • USACE: United States Army Corps of Engineers - permits discharge into waters of the U.S.
  • USFWS: United States Fish and Wildlife Service - permits incidental take of endangered species
  • TPWD: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department - permits disturbance of state-owned water bodies (soil/river bottom)
  • GLO: General Land Office - permits activities on state-owned water bodies
  • TCEQ: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - checking to determine permit requirements
  • THC: Texas Historical Commission - checking to determine permit requirements

“Since it may take several months to receive our permits to begin work, visitors should use caution while recreating in the river and avoid the areas that are temporarily closed off,” Stratemann continued.  “Visitors may still enjoy our river, but it’s recommended that they not go into any underwater ledge areas, as they might not be stable, and not swim alone or without a life jacket.”

These impending improvements to the Rio Vista Falls area are intended to provide safe and easy stream access and use in designated areas, prevent further bank erosion, and maximize recreation capabilities of the existing river park.  All environmental protections will be utilized and permitting requirements will be strictly followed during this project.