The Headwaters at the Comal is a living tribute to the history of people. It demonstrates the intersection of history and water; is the reason for the existence of the community of New Braunfels; and, as discovered through recent archaeological finds, has been a gathering place of people for thousands of years.
Going back to the 1930s, this site was the first waterworks for the City of New Braunfels. When the municipal utility provider moved its operations off the property in 2004, discussions began on what next to do with the property. There was recognition this was a historically important and environmentally sensitive site, landlocked in a residential neighborhood and prone to flooding, but also a working operations site for the utility provider.
Headwaters at the Comal is located near downtown New Braunfels and is a 16 acre tract of land which has served New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) as a warehouse; fleet and facilities yard; office and inventory storage facility from the 1940s until 2004. NBU’s intention is to partner with community, corporate, and other like-minded funding partners, to restore this unique riparian habitat and develop the site into a multi-use facility, used to honor the cultural and environmental history of the site and encourage future stewardship of the environment, water, and community. In addition to becoming an environmental showcase for the community, opportunities will be available for visitors, school groups, and researchers to discover and share the latest information in water and energy conservation, awareness, and education.
After going to the community in a series of charrettes, or brainstorming activities, the idea for the Headwaters at the Comal was created. A vision for the site to become an environmental showcase and a place where people of all ages can learn; have fun; and experience history and nature.
Phase I was the main restoration effort including much of the water quality improvements for the property.
A significant portion of the asphalt was removed and a partial removal of the spring cap was completed to improve the habitat for the endangered and threatened species on site
Restoration of the spring runs along the Comal River and Bleiders Creek was completed, as well as removal of invasive species, addition of native plant communities, and construction of berms and bioswales that direct storm water away from the headwaters, and filter and cleanse the water before it enters the Comal River.
Other features include an overlook area at the springs; nature trails and walking paths; an outdoor classroom; and a beautiful amphitheater at the juncture of the Comal Springs run and Bleiders creek.
“Unexpected Unique Consequence” the Headwaters has become a significant archaeological resource. From October 2018 – March 2019, an archaeological excavation took place on site to further explore the connection between the Comal Springs and the pre-archaic people who populated this region.
Public amenities will include a central courtyard, event lawn, display gardens, walking trails, outdoor classrooms, natural springs overlooks, wastewater treatment wetlands, composting facilities, and more.
Demonstration areas for commercial and residential conservation techniques and technologies, including HVAC and lighting technology; irrigation systems; plant selection; and use of natural ventilation and daylight
A courtyard that demonstrates LID principles with drought tolerant plants, water features, and terracing
A picnic area with permeable walkways and natural shading
An 8,000 sq. ft. ‘Living Building’, which incorporates adaptive reuse of existing structures; exterior walls made of plants that support pollinators and provide stunning color throughout the year; a water feature which uses rainwater collected from the building; and constructed wetland cells that demonstrate how wetlands cleanse and filter water
An outdoor classroom (2,800 sq. ft.) and multi-purpose building (9,000 sq. ft.) will be available for community use