Up to the early twentieth century, New Braunfels relied on the Comal River for its water supply, pumping it out from the river near the Clemens Dam. However, the textile mills and general city growth began polluting the river at the turn of the century, and the city turned to cleaner sources upstream.
Fritz Klingemann, who inherited this property (then known as Klingemann Springs) from his father Heinrich, offered to sell the spring property to the city in 1906 for $2,000. The city council rejected the offer, feeling it was too high for what they deemed an “alligator swamp.” Eventually, the city purchased the land for an increased price of $2,500 in 1907. Soon new water lines and a pump were installed on the property, founding the city’s new waterworks.
The City of New Braunfels applied for newly available Federal funding for improvements at the city waterworks in 1933. With that funding, the city set about cleaning up the property. Improvements included “walling up” (capping) the springs to help control flow, clearing out underbrush, and constructing new buildings.
The mayor reported in the City Council meeting minutes from 1936 “that the State Health Dep’t. had recommended that the City incase with concrete its main spring water supply at the pumping plant in order to eliminate the possibility of contamination from surface waters seeping in the present concrete block walled spring.”
By 1936, the spring had been capped and two stone and concrete buildings were constructed to house water pressurization equipment, maintenance facilities, and a metal foundry. The rock buildings constructed at that time still remain on the property. At least two wells were in operation in 1936, with a third drilled in December 1944.
The operation of the city’s waterworks was turned over to the New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) in 1959 and the utilities moved their operations to the Klingemann property in the 1960s. Operations remained there until 2004 when the utilities moved their water and electric operations and a number of other departments to a new location on FM 306.
Uncapping the Springs
A key element of our environmental restoration effort was the removal of a portion of the 1930s-era concrete cap that covered the site’s headwater spring. With the spring cap now open, organic matter falls into the water, living plants thrive, and beneficial microorganisms proliferate. This adds nutrients critical to the health of the spring’s fragile ecosystem, which is home to several rare and endangered species.