In early May, the House Committee on Environmental Regulation met to discuss issues that local governments face in keeping waterways clean. While the state government sets policy for environmental standards, local governments are often at the forefront of collecting garbage and cleaning up litter.
For example, a witness from the San Antonio River Authority testified that their agency collected over 200,000 pounds of trash in 2015, just from 9 miles of the San Antonio river. The litter is mostly small items, like styrofoam cups, water bottles, and fast food containers. There was also testimony to the problems of tire litter and we saw photos of tires that had been dumped in waterways. The committee will study this issue further later in the year and likely will produce proposals for the next legislative session.
Another issue that local governments face in environmental regulation is providing water to industries. Many manufacturers need a clean, stable water source to operate. When litter is in the water, it costs industry, as well as local governments, to clean it up. This also includes industry related to tourism.
For instance, we heard some compelling testimony about the Comal River and similar rivers known for weekend tubing and summer water activities that are devastated by littering. It was concerning to hear that upwards of 90% of people that use those rivers travel from out of town, but leave behind significant trash, beer cans, etc., for the local communities to clean up the mess.