“Pollution and debris have definitely appeared”; Houston-Tillotson is conducting research at Lady Bird Lake.

Austin (KXAN) — You can see a lot of people on or around Lady Bird Lake at almost any time of the day, but what impact do they have on the water and the environment?

On Monday, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department discussed the results of a new study from the University of Houston-Tillotson that looked at how congestion and other factors are affecting Lady Bird Lake and surrounding areas.

Michael Parish has been enjoying Lady Bird Lake since the 1970s. He does not believe that there are too many people here, but he sees a lot of garbage.

“It’s terrible,” Parish said. “I don’t know what they’re going to do, but there’s a lot more garbage.”

“Pollution and litter definitely top the list of user concerns,” said Amanda Masino.

Masino, who has a Ph.D. in Genetics and Developmental Biology, says the study also looked at parking, environmental impacts, and congestion on the lake.

“How many people, how much activity can you have on the water before you start noticing negative effects,” Masino said.

The survey was conducted during the summer and found that holidays and weekends were the busiest, especially where Barton Creek empties into Lady Bird Lake.

“Hopefully this can be used for any plan to reduce congestion,” Masino said. “Maybe it’s the development of amenities outside of this critical zone.”

Masino said some people changed their daily routine to beat the crowd.

“We had 58% to 60% of people between the trail and the water who said that the crowds prevented them from enjoying the lake,” Masino said.

Masino said she hopes to do more research in the future.

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