Does a Clean River Matter to You?
Perhaps the love of the Brazos River is not in the details but in the life-sustaining qualities.
Of course, the fishing trip where you reeled in your biggest catch or that time you kayaked down the water with friends makes for better stories over dinner.
Whether you appreciate the Brazos for the opportunities to create lasting memories or because it is a vital source of drinking water, we all know that keeping her clean is imperative. The Brazos River is a significant natural resource that flows through Texas, serving as a source of water, recreation, home to wildlife and a source of food.
The Brazos River supports us in so many ways. In so many more ways, we can help support this source of life.
Now, you may be wondering why you should personally pick up trash in the river. After all, isn't it someone else's responsibility? While it's true that government agencies and other organizations have a role to play in keeping the river clean, we all have a responsibility to do our part as well.
Unfortunately, like many other bodies of water, the Brazos River is threatened by pollution and litter. Perhaps a solo journey along the banks is more your speed when it comes to removing trash. But for those who enjoy and are motivated by team spirit and company, there are a variety of groups within the Brazos River basin that host river cleanup events. Litter in the river can come from a variety of sources, including careless individuals, stormwater runoff, and illegal dumping.
The Rio Brazos Chapter Texas Master Naturalist will hold its sixth annual Brazos River cleanup and campout May 26 through May 29, 2023, at Little L Ranch in Glen Rose, which is about 700 acres on the Brazos in South Somervell County.
The group welcomes anyone to join for an hour or two, or for the length of the event, to help remove dumped tires. The organization has collected close to 400 tires over the past five years, according to the ' 'group's website. The Texas Master Naturalist Program is coordinated jointly by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This chapter serves Hood, Somervell, and Johnson counties in the Cross Timbers and Prairies Ecoregions. For more information, go to txmn.org/rbc/. Find your local chapter of Texas Master Naturalist Programs here.
The Brazos River and the reservoirs dammed within it supply water to cities, water districts, water supply corporations, agricultural users, irrigators, steam electric generating facilities, manufacturing entities, and mining operations. Water is used for a diverse assortment of purposes, such as drinking, industrial applications, hydropower, waste disposal, recreation, and more. The river is an essential source of water for agriculture and industry, providing irrigation for crops and cooling water for power plants.
The river is home to a variety of plant and animal species that rely on the water quality and ecosystem to survive. Pollution can disrupt this delicate balance, harming aquatic life and the habitats they call home.
Picking up trash left by thoughtless people is, of course, not something we should have to do, but we know, in reality, it is something we must do to help preserve the river. If you're interested in picking up trash in the Brazos River, remember to prioritize your safety. Wear appropriate protective gear and avoid picking up hazardous materials or items that could cause injury. Also, take note of any local laws or regulations regarding litter removal. Some areas may require permits or have restrictions on what can be removed. And, of course, consider joining an ongoing effort so you 'don't feel so alone in your venture.
Another big event that runs through June 22 is the 25th Great American Cleanup, a program to support the efforts of Keep Texas Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful Affiliates. Nonprofits, volunteers, corporations, scout groups, and communities join forces to beautify communities and waterways in their area.
Keep Texas ' 'Beautiful's Great American Cleanup includes Keep Texas Waterways Clean, a program that provides support and supplies for waterway cleanups across Texas. This program is open to all affiliate and non-affiliate communities within 30 miles of an H-E-B or Central Market store. Volunteers can get trash bags, recycle bags, gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, poison ivy cleanser, and more. To find your local affiliate, request supplies, or learn more information, go here.
Be prepared for unfortunate and often surprising finds.
Volunteers have found an old payphone, shopping carts, computers, flat-screen televisions, vacuum cleaners, and patio furniture out of the Brazos River, according to this Waco Tribune-Herald article.
Another group working to help keep the Brazos River clean is the members of Friends of the Brazos River. They focus their efforts on restoring a sound ecological environment, especially between Lakes Possum Kingdom and Whitney. In 2022, the group ran roughly 18.5 miles and removed 102 tires. Learn more and meet up with the group here.
In November 2022, the Brazos Cleanup Project had more than 60 volunteers participate and collect 162 bags of trash for their 3rd annual Brazos Cleanup. This group cleans up the Brazos River along the John Graves Scenic Riverway below Possum Kingdom Lake – Learn more about them here.
The Texas Rivers Protection Association wants to help start river cleanups on all the rivers of Texas. If you would like to organize a cleanup on your local favorite section of a Texas river, send along some details and they will consult with you at no charge. They will also assign an experienced cleanup coordinator to assist you. Learn more about them here.
If you've yet to find a New Year's resolution you can get behind (' 'it's never too late), perhaps take up plogging.
The official definition of plogging is a blend of the Swedish phrase 'plocka 'upp' (meaning 'pick 'up') and 'jogging.' Plogging debuted in Sweden in 2016 and made its way to the United States in 2018. Plogging was adopted by Keep America Beautiful because it incorporates the primary areas we address – reducing litter, improving recycling, and beautifying communities – and this healthy ' 'activity's direct connection to our vision of a world ' 'that's clean, green and beautiful.
Preventing unlawful dumping is a matter that is relevant to everyone since maintaining the cleanest rivers, lakes, and streams is crucial to our health and quality of life. When trash is dumped illegally, it can directly pollute water resources or be placed on land and then runoff into the water.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the state regulatory agency charged with protecting our water quality. The TCEQ often works with local police to enforce regulations intended to protect the environment.
A person commits an offense if the person disposes or allows the disposal of litter or other solid waste at a place that is not an approved solid waste site, including a place on or within 300 feet of a public highway, or a right-of-way, on other public or private property, or into inland or coastal water of the state.
According to the Texas Health and Safety Code (Section 365.012)
If you see someone dumping things into the river or a stream or lake, do not approach them. Instead, contact the TCEQ environmental hotline at 1-888-777-3186 or call a local law enforcement agency to report the problem.
Each small step makes a big difference in helping keep the Brazos River as beautiful as she is important.
Thank you to everyone who has already tirelessly worked to keep the basin clean.