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The City of San Marcos, Texas State University and the City of Kyle call on volunteers to register for the 35th Annual Great Texas River Clean Up, which takes place March 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Above, volunteers from the 2019 Great Texas River Clean Up. Photo courtesy of the City of San Marcos.

San Marcos River Clean Up inspires statewide action

35th Great Texas River Clean Up seeks volunteers
Thursday, February 27, 2020

The City of San Marcos, Texas State University and the City of Kyle are calling on volunteers to register for the 35th Annual Great Texas River Clean Up, which takes place March 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. This annual event aims to pick up litter along all 90 miles of the San Marcos River.

The 2019 annual fall river clean up removed 5,400 pounds of trash, 1,740 pounds of recycling and 13 tires from the river. 

Inspired by the success of the Great Texas River Clean Up in San Marcos, Keep Texas Beautiful has now designated March as Waterways Cleanup Month, taking the event statewide. To encourage other cleanups, Keep Texas Beautiful is dedicating April as Texas Roadways Clean Up Month and May as Texas Parks and Trails Clean Up Month. 

“One of the greatest threats to our waterways is the presence of litter, and particularly plastics that decrease water quality, block storm drains, damage boats, reduce aesthetic appeal and property values, costing cities millions of dollars to remove each year,” said Brianna Fuller, Keep Texas Beautiful communications manager.

With the water level being especially low this year, the clean up has the opportunity to make a big impact, removing larger items like refrigerators and tires that have been hidden in previous years.

Main sources of pollution in the San Marcos River are beer cans and sewage, according to Tom Goynes, president of the Texas Rivers Protection Association, who has taken part in and organized river cleanups since the 70s. When asked about the greatest threat to the river, Goynes said, “Abuse. Too many people see the river as more of a party place. There are also plenty of people who see it as something that’s worth saving.”

Infographics by Colton Ashabranner

Residents who want to help can join a clean up organized by various groups like the San Marcos River Foundation and the Eyes of San Marcos River almost monthly. Other groups like the Texas Rivers Protection Association advocate for policy changes that might help reduce litter. 

One policy held by neighboring City of New Braunfels is a disposable container ban or “can ban” ordinance which prevents disposable containers like cans, plastic bags, cups or plastic bottles from ever entering the Comal River. New Braunfels reinstated this ordinance after the Texas State Appeals Court ruled it was constitutional in May of 2017. The ordinance allows drinking on the river from nondisposable containers like growlers and reusable cups.

Comal River Operations Manager Amy Niles reported that the city saw a 70% decrease in the amount of litter being pulled out of the river through a scuba contract from 3,070 pounds of litter in 2017, the last year before the disposable container ban was instated, to just 900 pounds of litter in 2019.

Goynes also mentioned recycling fees for people who do not have residential trash or recycling through the City of San Marcos as a contributing factor to disposal of materials in waterways or roadside. Materials that cost a fee for people who live outside the City of San Marcos include tires, A/C units, refrigerators, computer monitors, TVs and tires. Proper recycling of A/C units and refrigerators ensures that Freon, a significant environmental pollutant does not enter the environment.

So far, there are 18 registered Keep Texas Beautiful Waterway Clean Up events happening in Texas this March.

As an affiliate event of the Great Texas River Clean Up, the Keep Texas Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, contributed to broader efforts that collected 9,477 tires and 2 million pounds of trash and recycling nationwide.

For the clean up on March 7, volunteers can expect a breakfast taco, pizza, and T-shirts on a first come, first served basis. Check in at watershed headquarters is at 8:30 a.m. 

To participate in the upper San Marcos portion of the annual clean up (Sewell Park to Stokes Park), visit the signup page and select one of the 12 available watershed locations. Participants can also contact Keep San Marcos Beautiful at 512-393-8419 or email akirwin@sanmarcostx.gov.

To take part in the lower San Marcos River portion (Stokes Park to the Guadalupe River), contact Tom Goynes at 512-787-5574.

Watershed locations and headquarters:

  • Purgatory Creek 1– Gravel St and Mitchell St.
  • Purgatory Creek 2 – 1808 Hunter Rd.
  • Cottonwood Creek – Far N.W. Corner of Premium outlets behind Zegna Outlet
  • Sessom Creek – 151-2 E. Sessom Dr.
  • Sink Creek – 1600 N. LBJ Dr.
  • Willow Creek – 320 Mariposa St.
  • San Marcos River 1 – 170 Charles Austin Dr.
  • San Marcos River 2 – 520 N I-35 Frontage Rd.
  • Plum Creek – 628 Abundance Lane
  • Blanco River Village – Morning Shadow and Newberry Trail
  • Blanco Shoals – 1111 Avalon (back corner of The Avenue Apartments)
  • Five Mile Dam – 4440 S. Old Stagecoach Rd.

Great Texas River Clean Up donors include Abatix, Carson Properties, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, H-E-B./Central Market, Honda San Marcos/David Cook, Jacob’s/CH2M, Keep Texas Beautiful, San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, San Marcos Lions Club and Sur-Powr Battery.

 The event is sponsored by the Texas River Protection Association, City of San Marcos, Keep San Marcos Beautiful, Habitat Conservation Plan, Texas State University and City of Kyle. 

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666