Access to clean water is a crucial topic for every living creature on our planet. Here in New Braunfels, where we are blessed with the abundance provided by two natural waterways, we take water conservation very seriously. Thousands of Comal County residents rely on the integrity and bounty of our aquafer, while countless native species depend on the water quality of the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our nation’s rivers provide 2/3 of the water consumed by Americans. Due to water pollution caused by runoff, dumping, and litter, 44% of those rivers are not fit for swimming or human consumption, and 40% of freshwater species are at risk of extinction. With water recreation bringing thousands of visitors to New Braunfels every year, along with millions of dollars in tourism, service, and hospitality revenue, we all need to do our part to keep our local rivers safe and clean.
Litter is a very serious contributor to river pollution in New Braunfels. Aesthetics aside, simple trash discarded into the water or onto the banks is a safety hazard for swimmers and tubers and could harm or kill local wildlife. The most commonly discarded items take quite a long time to naturally decompose: Paper trash takes 2-6 weeks; cigarette butts take 1-5 years; aluminum cans take 80-100 years; and plastic vessels can take over 500 years to degrade! What’s worse, polystyrene may appear to break down quickly, but tiny fragments remain, presenting the risk of ingestion by wildlife, as well as soil contamination.
What Can You Do?
The number one thing each of us can do to prevent the contamination of New Braunfels rivers is to stop using disposable food and drink containers. Utilizing refillable beverage bottles and unpacking pre-wrapped food at home to be transported in reusable food containers can save literal tons of trash from finding its way into our rivers. Additionally, trading flimsy styrofoam coolers for more robust metal and plastic models eliminates the risk of breakage. One broken styrofoam cooler will release non-biodegradable fragments into the fragile ecosystem while sending your valuable beverages to the bottom of the river.
If we all work together, we can help to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and sustainable environment for all creatures who depend on our beautiful New Braunfels rivers.