In 2012, when New Braunfels Utilities decided it wanted to remediate the property and unused buildings surrounding its working water plant at the headwaters of the Comal River, a dynamic vision was born.

“The project is taking this site and using it for its highest and best purpose,” said Nancy Pappas, managing director of Headwaters at the Comal. “These springs are a vital part of the community and enhance the quality of life here.”

11 years after that decision was made, a spectacular conservation transformation has taken place. The Headwaters mission to strengthen the relationship between the community and nature by showcasing the significance of the Comal Springs is being realized.

The 16-acre retired industrial site has seen a utility space converted into a beautiful learning pavilion and five acres of asphalt have been removed, replaced by hundreds of trees, native grasses and plants. Walking trails have been created and riparian zones enhanced. And as a result of the site build out, localized pollution entering the Comal River system was reduced by 94%.

“NBU takes being a trusted community partner very seriously, and being a good steward of all their resources,” said Pappas. “Here at the Headwaters we are using adaptive reuse and green building principles, so really practicing what we preach.”

Phase 2 of the project began on March 21. What comes next is the restoration of a large warehouse building which will serve multiple functions including as a meeting place for a variety of programs and events. A tree shaded picnic area with a welcoming entrance will provide visitors with beautiful green space where they will be introduced to the earliest aspects of the site dating back to prehistoric times. Also, additional space off of the main walkway is planned for classrooms and exhibiting archaeological items discovered on the site.

“This has been an important gathering place for people for 10,000 years,” said Pappas. “They came here because these were significant enough springs that when there was severe drought, they knew this was a place where they could find food and water. We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to tell that story in the next phase of construction.”

In addition to field trips on site and other science and educational programs, Headwaters at the Comal is offering other community outreach programs such as free yoga classes and getting visitors out in nature for walks along the trails. The new spaces will expand the capacity for those programs.

Future development plans include a “Living Machine” an outdoor museum quality representation of the Hill Country Ecosystem for education and performances. The main goal is for everyone to enjoy the headwaters and the space around it.

“It’s up to all of us to learn about how we can be better stewards of our water. That’s another connection we want to make here, how every individual can do something—from something small to a grand scale,” said Pappas.

Fundraising is an important part of the development of Headwaters at the Comal. Donations of any size can be made directly to the nonprofit organization at

“The springs and river drive the economic health of the community. That’s why people move here and love living here. And the ecosystem that comes from the springs, what it creates for the birds and aquatic life. But it’s also really important all the way to the bays and estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Pappas.

Currently, reservations are required to visit. Find out more by visiting

The above story was produced by Community Impact's Storytelling Multi-Platform Journalist Victoria Schaefer with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team. Our integrity promise to our readers is to clearly identify all CI Storytelling posts so they are separate from the content decided upon, researched and written by our journalism department.