Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Rules of the River

Friday, April 19, 2024

Parks and Recreation breaks down single use container ban

Trash in the river is nothing new, but it might just be a thing of the past if the city of San Marcos has any say.

A clean, clear and litter free river could be the new norm as of May 1 when the single use container ban, often referred to as a can ban, officially goes into effect. Though one could find themselves bored of reading about the ordinance, the rules can be a little confusing and deserve clarification. The San Marcos’ Parks and Recreation Department wants to set rivergoers up for success by ensuring that the rules are clear to the public, including what can and cannot be brought to the river, where the “no zones” and “go zones” are and the cooler size limit.

“The big point of this, obviously, is we’re hoping we can make an impact in the amount of trash that is seen floating in the river [and] at the riverbed. Any little impact that we can make, we’re hopeful for,” said Christie Murillo, San Marcos Parks and Recreation marketing and outreach coordinator. “We find that there are so many volunteers, so many citizens and so many staff that are very passionate about the ecology of this sensitive environment. We want to keep these river parks and the rivers themselves pristine and good for generations to come. So this is just that initial step of trying to make that impact, so we see less trash in the river, on the riverbed and floating downstream.”

Murillo said the restricted items included any containers that are single-use such as cans, red solo cups, disposable plastic water bottles, mini liquor bottles and jello-shot containers, to name a few.

“What you can have is reusable water bottles, which come in so many shapes and sizes,” Murillo said.

The other part of this ordinance involves cooler size limits. Murillo said each person can have up to a 30 quart cooler but no larger. Those coolers must be latched close when on the river or river banks. Some coolers have this feature or a bungee cord can be used. This will prevent the contents of the container from floating down the river if the container is dumped over.

“The public display or consumption of alcohol is not permitted within city parks,” Murillo said. “In and along the river you can’t have anything less than five fluid ounces, so the little plastic jello shots [are not allowed] because they’re intended for less than five ounces. The little bottles of alcohol commonly referred to as airplane bottles [are not allowed]. … If somebody is planning to float the river they can have a big reusable tumbler filled with whatever their drink of choice is.”

Murillo said the single use container ban applies to designated areas such as in and along the river within the city limits. This also includes certain parks like Crooks Park, which is a wildlife annex, and therefore has special protections. There are “no zones,” where single-use containers are not allowed, and go zones, where single-use containers are allowed.

“Any area where you see city owned picnic tables, those are okay to have your disposable drink containers,” Murillo said. “Anybody who is accessing the river, they’re along the riverbanks, accessing the river [and] floating down the river, they need to have their reusable drink containers.”

Murillo said Park Marshals and Park Ambassadors always focus on education first. This means that if someone is breaking the rules, the park employee will inform them of that and expect the person to comply by throwing away the single-use container, taking the larger cooler to the car, etc.

“As always the goal is education first to get compliance. They tend to find that education does get them compliance most of the time,” Murillo said. “As with any other time of the year, if they cannot gain compliance through education … they can cite them. That fine can range from $250 to $500.”

Go to reusable to see an interactive map showing the no zones and go zones and a list of what is and isn’t allowed.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666