Buda teams up to fix a dam problem

With land catering to its historic farming and ranching roots, Buda is probably the last place anyone would expect to find dam-building beavers.

 Buda officials, however, were shocked to discover the Garlic Creek Retention pond, located in the Garlic Creek subdivision in west Buda, is a preferred place for the buck-toothed rodents to build dams that are blocking drains and could cause flooding issues.

City workers install large pipes underneath the beaver dam. (courtesy photo)

With the help of the Texas Wildlife Service Program (TWSP), Buda is taking an innovative approach to alleviating drainage problems and keeping its flat-tailed neighbors safe.

The solution to this unusual problem lies in a partnership between Buda and the Texas Wildlife Services Program (TWSP), which called for installing an underwater piping structure, according to a Buda press release.

The beaver lodge on Garlic Creek Retention Pond made of mud, cattails and sticks with an underwater entrance. (courtesy photo)

Jennifer Hall, Buda Animal Control Officer, said the piping structure is expected to work without disturbing the new beaver tenants at the retention pond. Buda officials said in the release when beavers build dams in the retention ponds, they can sometimes inadvertently “block the pond drain.”

“What it does is it extends a pipe out to the middle of the retention pond and pulls the water underneath their dam and puts it farther out to where they don’t hear the water trickling anymore,” Hall said.

Hall said by bypassing the dam, beavers cannot hear water trickling. 

When beavers hear the trickling of water, they pull the “dirt and all the debris from underneath, patching it and causing the water to rise,” she said. 

“This (blockage) compromises the function of the retention pond to hold and distribute rain runoff, posing a potential flooding threat,” Buda public information officer David Marino said.

The “beaver-friendly” flow control structure was installed underneath the beaver dam by city officials the week of April 10. Officials hope the move will allow the beavers to continue living on the pond without disruption.

Mike Bodenchuk, director of Texas Wildlife Services, said Buda’s solution to its beaver problem is “an innovative approach that will protect the wetland, wildlife and the neighborhood.

(courtesy photo)

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said he didn’t know when the actual beaver situation began, but recalls how staff members have had to clear out the pipes due to debris in the past.

“I think we have found a sensible solution that can be used throughout the region and throughout the state if it works,” Ruge said.

However, it’s still too early to tell at this time if the new installation is working or not. 

“We will evaluate the structures and if they perform as designed,” Bodenchuk said. “The design may be included in future retention ponds to prevent the risk of floods while maintaining wetland characteristics.”

Ruge remains optimistic about the creative solution toward cohabitation, but maintained Buda has always thought “outside the box” when presented with a delicate situation.

“My hope is the solution works,” Ruge said, “Although this is the first situation involving wildlife that we have encountered, Buda has always looked for ways to think ‘outside the box’ to solve problems.”

According to the release, the TWSP will be closely monitoring the piping structures for their efficacy.

“Because the approach is relatively new, we will also work with wildlife groups to use this as a demonstration site for community coexistence with wildlife,” Bodenchuk said.

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