Scuba diving in Spring Lake, for any reason, is complicated by the delicate nature of the environment. Declared a "Critical Habitat" in 1980, Spring Lake is home to eight federally listed species and is governed by the rules and regulations of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In addition, Spring Lake is registered as an Archaeological site governed by the rules of the state of Texas Antiquities Law. Consequently there is no recreational diving in Spring Lake.
The Diving for Science program was designed to protect and preserve the abundant natural, historical, and cultural resources found in Spring Lake’s aquatic environment. The Diving for Science course is an authorization course specifically for diving in Spring Lake. The program establishes protocols and ensures that research objectives are met while diving in a safe manner.
Once completed, the Diving for Science program provides countless opportunities for researchers and volunteers to scuba dive in Spring Lake in support of program objectives.
The Meadow Center's Diving for Science program is an excellent way to scuba dive in spring-fed water from the Edwards Aquifer and at the same time become involved in one of the largest habitat restoration projects in the country.
The average flow of the San Marcos River is around 140 cubic feet per second (cfs). When spring flow is around 100 cfs, the flow rate is considered low. When the spring flow is around 500 cfs, the flow rate is considered high. The rate at which the San Marcos Springs flow is ultimately a result of Edwards Aquifer levels. This means that spring flow will fluctuate with different rates of consumption and rainfall. Since Texas is known for periods of droughts followed by flooding, spring flow is constantly changing. The continued lack of rainfall within the recharge zone and the resulting low spring flow demonstrates that the Edwards Aquifer is a limited resource, which is why water conservation is significant.
When the flow rate of the San Marcos Springs is 100 cfs, The Meadows Center will implement a Diving Drought Protocol in accordance with the Habitat Conservation Plan. The protocol requires limiting the number of Diving for Science volunteers submerged in Spring Lake. Only two to three volunteer scuba divers may be submerged at a given spring location at the same time. Unfortunately, this might affect convenience of dive times, where scheduling will be on a first come first dive basis. However, the purpose of the Diving Drought Protocol is to preserve the unique aquatic ecosystem as well as to protect the safety of volunteer scuba divers. At 100 cfs, Diving for Science volunteers will find themselves in closer proximity to glass bottom boat traffic as the water level of Spring Lake will continue to drop in response to the declining spring flow. At 75 cfs, the Diving Drought Protocol requires all scuba diving activities to be suspended in Spring Lake. We apologize for any inconvenience. Again, the Diving Drought Protocol is necessary to protect the unique ecosystem in Spring Lake as well as the safety of all Diving for Science volunteers.