New Braunfels begins process of bringing back ‘can ban' on rivers

Mayor says there will likely be grace period

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - The city of New Braunfels said the way things stand, it will be illegal to pack aluminum cans while floating by the end of July.

That was the word from the mayor Monday night after city lawyers briefed City Council on last week's appeal win of the “can ban.”

“You responded to the will of the people," Bill Norvell said.

Norvell has lived along the Comal River for years in a family home that has been passed on from generation to generation.

Three residents took their chance to come up to the podium Monday night to congratulate city officials on their win.

Mayor: Tubers can take cans to river for now

Voters approved the law in 2011 with 58 percent of residents giving the go ahead to enact the ban. 

The issue has been tied up in the courts since a district judge ruled in March 2014 that the law banning cans and large coolers on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers is unconstitutional. In a 29-page decision, the appellate judges ruled Thursday the tubing outfitters never had a right to sue in the first place because, based on previous case law, the district court didn't have the right to take the case.

While the law is scheduled to go into effect July 28, the mayor said he believes there will be a grace period.

"What we've done with all our other ordinances that we've had, like the texting ban or maybe a smoking ban, we've always gone through an educational period,” Mayor Barron Casteel said. “We're clearly going to want to have cooperation with everyone, if we want to be effective with the ordinance."

During the 2 1/2 years the ordinance was enforced, the amount of litter collected dropped. While the law was on appeal, officials said they saw more litter along the rivers.

"By any measure, the can ban was a success,” Norvell said. “Let's keep it that way."

Casteel said at the first regularly scheduled City Council meeting in June, they will lay out a plan and prepare to get the law back on the books.

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