Local organization protecting San Antonio water supply through cave conservation

Hundreds of pounds of trash were removed during a cave cleaning

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/


About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.