City’s river basin grade for trash collection is an F. Here’s what the city is doing (and how you can help).

“Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” initiative aims to lead clean-up efforts in area waterways

Credit: San Antonio River Authority

When it rains, litter from streets, parking lots and neighborhoods washes into ditches and storm sewers, which then drains into area creeks and rivers.

San Antonio River Authority’s advice: Don’t let litter trash your river. Put litter where it belongs. Trash in area waterways poses a threat to wildlife habitats and costs communities thousands to clean up. As a community, we can be a part of the solution.

Since 1937, the River Authority has preserved, protected and managed the resources and the ecology of the San Antonio River and its tributaries.

Improving the health of creeks and rivers is one of the main goals of the River Authority, and nonpoint source pollution is the biggest threat.

What is nonpoint source pollution?

This type of pollution occurs when pollution enters waterways from a variety of sources. Nonpoint source pollution harms bodies of water by increasing levels of bacteria, nutrients and hazardous chemicals.

Examples of nonpoint source pollution include oils, pesticides and trash, which is the most unsightly form of nonpoint source pollution.

Credit: San Antonio River Authority

One of the agency’s long-term, audacious goals is to achieve trash-free waters in the San Antonio River Basin. The River Authority will help achieve this goal through public education, engagement, trash mitigation and collection efforts.

On Sept. 24, 2021, the River Authority officially launched the new trash outreach initiative, joined by Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, to show a united front in addressing this community-wide issue.

As part of its commitment to safe, clean and enjoyable creeks and rivers, the River Authority launched the San Antonio River Basin Report Card in 2020 to measure the health of the basin and to help the community make educated choices that support a sustainable San Antonio River Basin.

The current San Antonio River Basin report card’s grade for public trash collection is an F, which was also the grade for the last three years.

‘Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River’ initiative

Motivated by this data, and to proactively address the threats to creeks and rivers from trash, the “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” initiative aims to educate the communities throughout the basin. A pivotal part of the initiative is to encourage the public to take a pledge to help keep area creeks and rivers clean by not littering and picking up trash when they see it on the ground, whether in their neighborhoods or at area parks and parking lots.

As part of this new trash outreach initiative, the community will see TV spots as well as print, digital, social media and out-of-home creative materials that will drive viewers to the River Authority’s website. where they can learn about actions they can take to help keep area creeks and rivers clean.

The dedicated webpage will also have online resources like a social media tool kit with content and graphics available for download and information on how individuals and community organizations can organize cleanup events or join the River Authority River Warrior volunteer program to take part in events organized by the agency.

Trash on the San Antonio River Walk Mission Reach following a rain event Credit: San Antonio River Authority

The River Authority is working with the City of San Antonio to promote the Adopt-a-Spot program and will also work with council districts on a city-wide trash cleanup challenge. These efforts will align with the already established free household hazardous waste collection events in Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.

Ready to do your part?

Visit the San Antonio River Authority website to take the “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” pledge and take advantage of online resources. The simplest way to get involved is by helping pick up trash when you’re out and about.

Since so many people have a smartphone, the River Authority is also promoting an innovative way to get public involvement and to track the amount of trash that has been collected through the Litterati app, which can be downloaded for free on any Apple or Android device -- and it’s easy to use. You can join the San Antonio River Authority Litterati Challenge once you download the app.

Here’s how it works: Take a pic of the litter via the app before you pick it up, then tag the photo on the app and make sure you discard the trash properly. It’s that easy.

To learn more, click here.