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Waterways Cleanup Month: Problems Facing Our Waters

This month, Keep Texas Beautiful is highlighting Texas's aquatic resources by designating March Waterways Cleanup Month. More than 80,000 miles worth of rivers, streams, and bayous crisscross Texas, adding to our state's profound natural beauty. Texas is home to 15 major rivers and 3,700 named streams (per Texas Parks and Wildlife), which are integral to the state's environmental resiliency. Unfortunately, these once-pristine waters need our help now more than ever before: a 2013 study found that Texas's waterways are the fourth most polluted in the nation. Here, we highlight some actions that anyone can take in their own community to help restore, revitalize, and protect these crucial natural resources.

The Problem:

Litter, pollution, and environmental degradation all influence the viability and sustainability of Texas waterways. Diminished water quality due to increased litter content (in a state already predisposed to droughts and other supply concerns) threatens to have a pronounced negative impact upon the state's ability to provide enough drinking water for a rapidly expanding population. An Environmental Protection Agency report from 2016 outlined the potential dangers of water depletion and drought over the next few decades, dangers exacerbated by a waterways system inundated with litter and pollution. Plastic accumulates in Texas at ten times the magnitude of the other Gulf States. Rivers contribute an estimated 80% of the plastic in the ocean worldwide, and therefore represent an excellent opportunity to improve global oceanic health by cleaning up our waterways before they flow into the sea (bringing with them untold amounts of plastics and other trash).

Ways to Help:

Waterways Cleanup Month is a perfect opportunity to get involved in mitigating some of the problems outlined above. Feel free to peruse the KTB event calendar to find waterways cleanups happening in or near your community. No event nearby? We have curated advice and guidelines for creating your own cleanup and a variety of useful resources to help you get started. Try recruiting some friends or family members to take a few hours to improve their community. Even a small group can have a large impact on litter in rivers and streams.  

Curious to learn more? Visit ktb.org/gac to learn about Waterways Month. 

​Blog Post Written By Daniel Matz, Programs Intern. 


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