Travis County Parks and the Colorado River Alliance are hosting the 28th Annual Lake Travis Cleanup on September 11th.
The last purge took place in April and had the participation of 350 volunteers from Texas and Oklahoma. Volunteers came to deep clean styrofoam, microplastics and other trash from Devil’s Cove, Arkansas Bend, Hippie Hollow, Mansfield Dam, Starnes Island and other Lake Travis locations.
The purge is a family-friendly event with volunteer options for all abilities, said Adrienne Longenecker, executive director of the Colorado River Alliance. Volunteers can clean up the lake by scuba diving — which requires certification, tanks and equipment —, boating out to hard-to-reach areas, or picking up rubbish on shore. From there, the garbage is loaded onto trucks and sent to disposal centers.
“It’s definitely a kind of work to get your hands dirty,” Longenecker said.
In April, volunteers removed 423 garbage bags and collected 10,080 pounds of trash in Arkansas Bend and Webberville parks alone.
Katie Bedrich, program director for the Colorado River Alliance, said the cleanup is not only for the direct impact on the environment, but also to raise awareness of how Austin’s freshwater sources affect residents’ daily lives.
“If you live in the city of Austin and you get your water bill from Austin Water, that water originally came from the Texas Colorado River,” Bedrich said. “We are really fortunate to have this amazing fresh water source that supports 100% of our municipal water.”
In addition, the cleanup results shed light on how everyday behavior can unintentionally harm Austin’s water sources.
“Everything that happens to land happens to water,” Bedrich said, adding that rain carries cigarette butts and microplastics into the Highland Lakes.
“[It’s a] tremendous community effort; it needs all of us,” said Longenecker.