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Litter in the San Antonio River is no Joke!

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Don't Let Litter Trash Your River. Let's all Be River Proud.

It’s officially Spring in Texas! It’s time to celebrate the arrival of many things: Fiesta® San Antonio, celebrations throughout our San Antonio River Basin communities, and the appearance of the stunning wildflowers that make us proud to be Texan. Unfortunately, along with the celebrations come many opportunities for litter to make its way into our local creeks and the San Antonio River.

 

Litter Goes with the Flow

Litter is a significant pollutant that threatens our watershed and can quickly end up in our river when it rains. During a rainstorm, some rain goes into the ground, where it is soaked up and used by plants and other organisms. However, when the rain hits hardened surfaces like sidewalks, roads, and roofs, it runs right off and gets carried safely down the streets into storm drains. What happens to the plastic bags, single-use water bottles, and dog poop on the roads or sidewalks in the path of the flowing water?

You guessed it. Even if it’s on the land miles away, litter gets carried right into the creeks and streams that feed our river. We call this runoff filled with litter and other pollutants stormwater runoff. River Authority water quality monitoring data sets indicate that stormwater runoff is the most significant contributor to poor water quality in the San Antonio River Basin. As further proof of this problem, the  San Antonio River Basin Report Card‘s grade for public trash has been an F for the past two years, indicating an urgent need to take action.

 

Besides being stinky and unattractive, stormwater runoff ends up causing many problems for the health of humans and our environment. For example, fish can swallow small pieces of plastic that they mistake for food, and birds can become entangled in plastic nets. People paddling on or swimming in the San Antonio River can potentially get sick if they swallow water containing bacteria like E. Coli.

Ring necked duck in San Antonio River

A River Warrior volunteer captured this picture of a Ring-necked Duck in the river with a plastic coffee lid around its neck and bill. Fortunately, this duck was rescued and the ring removed. Unfortunately, not all stories that start with litter have happy endings.

Take the “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” Pledge! 

Hopefully, you now understand that litter is no joke! Luckily, April is Keep America Beautiful® Month and the perfect time to take action as we enjoy Springtime celebrations like the 2022 Mission Reach Flotilla Fiesta

Be River Proud logo is on top of white skyline of the City of San Antonio

While you’re out enjoying Fiesta 2022, create a litter plan! Minimize waste by bringing a reusable bag instead of a plastic one. Dispose of all trash into the proper containers. #BeRiverProud and together, we can ensure Fiesta for future generations.

Ready to do your part?

Visit our “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” webpage to take the pledge and utilize our other online resources. The simplest way to get involved is by 1) throwing away your trash, 2) helping pick up litter when you’re out and about, and 3) telling your family, friends, and community to take the pledge.

Contribute Valuable LitterData

Litterati quick start guide. 1. Download the app and claim your account; 2. Check that your phone's GPS location settings are on; 3. Clean up & take photos!; 4. Upload your photos via wi-fi when you're done; 5. Tag your photos in the gallery after uploading

Looking for another way to contribute? You can make a lasting impact by collecting LitterData through Litterati.

With the Litterati app, you can document and categorize the litter you find. Then, we’ll use your data in collaboration with local corporations and government agencies as we make informed decisions that contribute to the health of our watershed.

From the start of the San Antonio River Authority’s Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River initiative, contributors have documented over 3,800 pieces of litter on the Litterati app. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late!

What better way to help preserve the health of our San Antonio River in 2022 than by preventing our litter from escaping our spaces to the storm drains that lead to the rivers and creeks?

Become a River Warrior!

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we invite you to join our dedicated team of River Authority River Warriors. These essential volunteers contribute to the San Antonio River’s safety, health, and enjoyability through river cleanups, invasive species removal, and erosion control. When you join the team, you’ll be invited to attend educational events and trainings to learn more about how you can help preserve and protect the San Antonio River Basin.

River Warrior Volunteers and River Authority Staff pose next to trash bags after a successful clean up.

Together, we can reach our goal of trash-free creeks and rivers, so don’t wait to get started. Let’s take advantage of the beautiful weather and sunlight this Spring to do our part to preserve and protect the San Antonio River!

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