City cracks down on Barton Springs spillway rule-breakers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police are warning of a spike in crime at a popular Austin swimming spot. Car break-ins, alcohol use, and off-leash dogs  are all some of the problems being reported at the Barton Springs spillway, located just below Barton Springs Pool.

For years, Austinites have cooled off in the Barton Springs spillway during the hot summer months–even affectionately calling the place “barking springs” because you can bring your dog. But the Austin Police Department says that is one of the things leading to problems.

Marisa Mingea’s visits to the Barton Springs spillway started when she was just a kid.

“Instead of going to Barton Springs, I come here because I have dogs,” Mingea said. “I always feel bad going swimming when I don’t have them with me.”

Just a few weeks ago, Marisa brought her 4-month-old puppy to the spillway to teach it how to swim.

“Everybody had their dogs on their leash, and tried to play fetch with them while they had their leashes on,” Mingea said.

But she decided to take a chance. APD officers saw her dogs off-leash and issued her four tickets–two “dogs at large” and two “un-vaccinated”, since she didn’t have their rabies tags on at the time. The tickets didn’t come cheap.

“Probably about $200,” Mingea said.

Austin Police say that off-leash dogs aren’t the only problem, citing city ordinances in place that also prohibit glass alcohol containers and smoking. Police say other crimes are on the rise as well.

“We’ve had a large amount of thefts of personal property where people leave their wallet or their cell phone or electronic device that’s been getting stolen,” Lieutenant Art Fortune, Austin Police Department, said.

As police crack down on the leash law and other ordinances, Marisa and her pups are feeling the change.

“This dog wants to run as far as she can chasing a tennis ball,” Mingea said. “And she came here knowing that she was going to do it. And then I had to keep her on a leash, and she was like ‘I don’t know what to do!'”

Alcohol is currently allowed at the spillway as long as it’s not in a glass container. But beginning September 2, it will be banned.

We asked police for crime reports for the park area. The most common crimes are car break-ins and thefts. APD has seen 91 of those reports since the start of the year. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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