Annual watershed cleanup event a success

More than 180 volunteers turn out for Alligator, Geronimo creeks cleanup

Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contact: Ward Ling, 979-845-6980, wling@tamu.edu

SEGUIN – More than 180 volunteers removed 1,900-plus pounds of trash and debris during the recent fifth-annual Geronimo and Alligator creeks cleanup event, said event coordinators.

The event was coordinated by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Geronimo and Alligator Creeks Partnership and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority as part of implementation efforts for the area’s watershed protection plan.

“This is a fun time when the community pulls together to clean up the creeks,” said Mike Urrutia, the river authority’s director of water quality services, Seguin. “Everyone involved has a great time.”

Urrutia said Geronimo Creek and its tributary Alligator Creek flow through Comal and Guadalupe counties.

“Both were identified for watershed protection plan development due to elevated levels of bacteria and concerns about high levels of nitrogen, as reported in the Texas Water Quality Inventory published by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” he said.

More than 180 volunteers helped at the recent  cleanup event. (Photo courtesy of Rissa Springs)

Volunteers met at 9 a.m. for breakfast tacos, safety briefings and cleanup instructions. Event t-shirts, trash bags, gloves, pick-up tools and other supplies were available to those who came out to help. Members of the Guadalupe Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program were on hand to provide information to volunteers about water quality issues in the creeks and to offer safety information, including how to identify areas where poison ivy might be growing.

Ward Ling, AgriLife Extension program specialist and Alligator and Geronimo creeks watershed coordinator, College Station, said local businesses, church groups, major corporations, landowners, homeowners and school groups all gave their time and resources to make this year’s event a great success.

“Local groups supported the event through financial donations and giving their time by forming volunteer cleanup teams,” Ling said. “And area residents came out to pick up trash along roadways that drain to the creeks, as well as along creek banks.”

Progressive Waste Solutions and the City of New Braunfels donated disposal and recycling services for trash collected during the event. Sponsors for the event included: Alamo Group, Becker’s Feed and Fertilizer, the City of New Braunfels, Continental Corporation, Crossroads Veterinary Hospital, Ehlers Tree Farm, Friedens United Church of Christ-Geronimo, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, Guadalupe County Groundwater Conservation District, KWED, Parker’s Building Supply, Progressive Waste Solutions and Thrivent Financial.

Rissa Springs, a biology and chemistry teacher at Navarro High School in Geronimo, was one of the volunteer team captains. She coordinated teams of students from both Navarro and Winston School San Antonio.

“I coordinate the activities of our Interact Group, which is an educational outreach group of a local Rotary club,” Springs explained. “We have been involved in the cleanup each year since it began, so we’ve been participating for five years now. This year, we had eight students who volunteered to help with the cleanup.”

Springs said the event was an opportunity for the students to get out into a natural setting and see firsthand what they had learned in class about natural habitat.

“Having them get out and clean up around the watershed gave them hands-on experience,” she said. “And it really made them think twice about what gets tossed out of a car window and its effect on the environment.”

Volunteers picked up more than 1,900 pounds of trash and debris, cleaning 17 miles of roadway and riparian areas in throughout the watershed area. (Photo courtesy of Ward Ling)

The volunteers worked at 20 locations and cleaned 17 miles of roadway and creek banks, including roads and riparian areas around Geronimo and Alligator creeks. They removed 95 bags of trash, eight tires, several wooden pallets, automotive batteries, mattresses and debris.

“Miles of roadway and creek banks were made litter-free by adults, teenagers and children who donated their time to make a difference in the way their community looks, as well as how they feel about it,” Ling said. “This was a community service project that truly benefited everyone in the watershed area.”

For more information on the project, contact Ling at 979-845-6980 or wling@tamu.edu or go to http://www.geronimocreek.org/.

Funding for the effort was provided through a federal Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant administered by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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