River Authority Leads Effort to Clean Up Area Waterways with “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” Public Outreach Initiative

The River Authority
Oct 01, 2021

In 1937, the State of Texas created the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority), empowering the agency to preserve, protect, and manage the resources and the ecology of the San Antonio River and its tributaries. Improving the health of creeks and rivers is one the main goals of the River Authority. Data from River Authority water quality monitoring indicates that untreated rainwater runoff is the most significant contributor to water quality degradation in the San Antonio River Basin. The untreated rainwater that goes into storm drains and directly to area creeks and rivers is known as stormwater runoff. The pollutants picked up by stormwater include, but are not limited to, oil, fertilizers, bacteria, heavy metals, gasoline, sediment, trash, and floatable litter.

One of the agency’s long-term, audacious goals is to achieve trash-free waterways in the San Antonio River Basin. The River Authority will help achieve this goal through public education, engagement, and trash mitigation and collection efforts. On September 24, 2021, the River Authority officially launched a new trash outreach initiative at a media event with support from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, City of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and San Antonio Spurs player and Team USA gold medalist Keldon Johnson. Elected officials from Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties also supported the new initiative in news releases that went out to the community papers in the southern basin. Read along to learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved!

Trash Outreach Initiative

As part of our commitment to safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers, the River Authority launched the San Antonio River Basin Report Card in 2020 to measure the health of the basin and to help our community make educated choices that support a sustainable San Antonio River Basin. The 2021 San Antonio River Basin Report Card’s grade for public trash is an F, which was also the grade for public trash in 2020.

Motivated by this data and these failing grades for public trash, the River Authority launched the “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” public outreach initiative to proactively address the threats to creeks and rivers from trash, floatable litter, and illegal dumping throughout the San Antonio River Basin. A pivotal part of the initiative is to educate citizens throughout the basin and encourage the public to take a pledge to help keep area creeks and rivers clean by not littering and picking up trash when they see it on the ground, whether in their neighborhoods or at area parks and parking lots.

As part of this new trash outreach initiative, the community will see TV spots as well as print, digital, social media, and out-of-home creative materials that will drive viewers to the River Authority’s website where they can learn about actions they can take to help keep area creeks and rivers clean, like taking the pledge to join us in our efforts to eliminate trash from the San Antonio River Basin. The River Authority’s dedicated trash outreach webpage will also have online resources like a social media toolkit with content and graphics available for download and information on how individuals and community organizations can organize cleanup events or join the River Authority River Warrior volunteer program to take part in events organized by the agency.

The River Authority’s Education and Engagement team is working with area schools to organize field trips and classroom presentations to educate youth throughout the basin and empower them to play a role in cleaning and protecting area natural resources. Area businesses will also be encouraged to support this initiative with outreach efforts being led by our nonprofit partner the San Antonio River Foundation.

As trash knows no boundaries, and to take a collaborative approach in addressing this issue, the River Authority is also working with other local governments throughout the agency’s four-county jurisdiction to effectively address the issue of trash, floatable litter, and illegal dumping. For example, the River Authority is working with the City of San Antonio to encourage residents to join the City’s Adopt-a-Spot program or organize cleanups on their own at designated City parks. You can learn more and sign up for these City of San Antonio volunteer programs by visiting the River Authority’s volunteer toolkit. Another example of intergovernmental collaboration is how the new trash initiative aligns with the River Authority’s already established free household hazardous waste (HHW) collection events in Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties. These events help prevent illegal dumping and in conjunction with the trash outreach initiative, will continue to educate the public on proper ways to dispose of trash. An HHW event was recently held in Wilson County and there are HHW events coming up soon in Goliad and Karnes counties. Learn more about these HHWs on our events page.

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

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 helping pick up trash when you’re out and about. As nearly everyone has a smart phone, the River Authority is also promoting an innovative way to get public involvement and to track the amount of trash that has been collected thanks to this initiative. The Litterati app can be downloaded for free on any Apple or Android device and it’s very easy to use! Join the San Antonio River Authority Litterati Challenge once you download the app, take a pic of the litter on the app before you pick it up, then tag the photo on the app. The final step is to properly discard the trash! Together, we can reach our goal of trash-free creeks and rivers, so don’t wait to get started and do your part to help preserve and protect the San Antonio River Basin.