COMAL COUNTY, Texas – Hundreds of pounds of trash were removed from a Comal County cave in an effort to keep the drinking water quality high in San Antonio.
The Bexar Grotto regularly cleans caves and showed KSAT what they found during a cave cleaning.
“A lot of the rainwater washes into these caves and then eventually get to our drinking water eventually. So we want, we don’t want all or the trash to be the part of the filtration system. Some of them have like gasoline or gas so those are really toxic, like toxic waste,” said Dr. Mio Kintano with Bexar Grotto.
The majority of trash was rusted cans and glass bottles, but there were more hazardous items like a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. The bottle was labeled poisonous with a skull and cross-bones.
Dr Kintano explained that rainwater enters the caves and then flows to the Edwards Aquifer. The Edwards Aquifer is San Antonio’s main source of drinking water.
When there is trash, the water flows through the waste before recharging the aquifer. The more hazardous the trash, the higher the risk.
However, San Antonio’s drinking water quality is high. To keep it that way, Dr. Kintano says the cleanings need to continue. That means removing new trash and old trash that has been in the caves for generations.
Back in the day, it was common practice to use these caves as dumpsters. Dr. Kintano said it was an out of sight, out of mind mentality.
Through cave conservation awareness, that has changed. Some private landowners even call the Bexar Grotto to get help cleaning caves on their property.
The Bexar Grotto does cave cleanings every few months when new caves are found and when private landowners give them permission to come on their property.
If you want to help, you can visit https://caves.org/grotto/bexargrotto/