AUSTIN, Texas—Work to repair water leaks in the turtle ponds north of the Main Building of The University of Texas at Austin will begin in late March in cooperation with a committee of faculty, staff and students that is addressing environmental and aesthetic aspects of the project.
Dr. Paul D. Gottlieb, chair of the committee and director of the university’s School of Biological Sciences, said physical plant personnel have determined water is seeping through cracks in liners of the three ponds and that the process of repairing them and cleaning accumulated sludge will take several weeks. He said the committee is hopeful all repairs can be completed and the ponds restored to normal use in time for it to be enjoyed by visitors during Commencement on May 18.
He noted that the ponds certainly add an aesthetic value to the campus but they also are important as an observational research site for students of the biological sciences.
Gottlieb said concerns for plants and wildlife in the ponds have been addressed by the committee as part of the repair project. The plan is for designated faculty and students in the School of Biological Sciences to remove the plants and animals the week after spring break to safe holding sites off campus while repairs are being made, then to restore them to the pond when repairs are completed.
He said that after all the sludge is removed from the ponds and the leaks are repaired by contractors, the ponds will be filled and native plants and wildlife will be returned to the site.
During the repair and cleaning process, a protective fence will be placed around the pond to prevent debris from blowing onto passing pedestrians and vehicles in nearby parking spaces, Gottlieb said.
The turtle ponds are in a tree-covered grassy area that in 1999 was designated as the Tower Garden, a special place of recognition of those who died and others whose lives were touched by the Aug. 1, 1966 shooting by Charles Whitman from the Tower.
Landscape architect Eleanor H. McKinney and visual artist Jill Bedgood have been appointed to work as a team in the design of a memorial and its surroundings at the Tower Garden. Dedication of the memorial in the Tower Garden is planned for Aug. 1, 2003, the 37th anniversary of the tragic shooting event.
For more information, contact Gottlieb at (512) 232-3690.