This is the fourth year Ling has coordinated a clean-up in the watershed that drains to Geronimo and Alligator creeks. It is part of the watershed protection plan that was established for those creeks in 2012 by AgriLife, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
Geronimo creek was listed on the Texas 303(d) list of impaired waterways in 2008 and 2010. The watershed protection plan was developed to restore and protect the water quality of the creek. Since Alligator Creek feeds the Geronimo, it was included in the plan.
On April 2, 191 volunteers showed up to help clean trash from the watershed. Dispersed in small groups they covered 27 locations along those creeks, including roadways and creek crossings. Eight hundred pounds of trash were removed, consisting of 175 bags of trash, wooden pallets, tires, car batteries and other debris.
“The first year we had a clean-up, we hauled out almost two tons of garbage,” Ling stated. “We have more volunteers now and cover more area, but came up with less garbage. This is a good thing. It means that people are taking care of the watershed.”
In 2012, the first year of the clean-up, 100 volunteers covered twelve locations along the creeks and removed 2,960 pounds of trash. The following year 230 volunteers participated. They covered twenty locations and removed 7,020 pounds of trash. Last year twenty-two locations were covered, yielding 2000 pounds of removed garbage.
“The first few years we were getting in to areas that had never been cleaned. They are much more manageable now,” stated Ling.
Even with the reduction in the amount of trash cleaned up, Ling plans to keep holding the event on an annual basis.
“The volunteers really have a good time. The list of sponsors is growing and they don’t want to stop having the event,” Ling said. “We will seek out new areas that are in bad shape, and continue to manage those we have been working on.”
Ling admitted that many people are surprised to find that they are cleaning roadsides during the clean-up.
“Many people don’t realize what a watershed is,” Ling said. “We have to explain that all these areas that drain into the creeks are part of the watershed, and that by keeping them clean, we ultimately improve the creek.”
The creek clean-up is just one part of the Geronimo and Alligator Creek Watershed Protection Plan. Other efforts concerning urban and rural land uses which affect the watershed are also being made to improve the quality of the water in the creeks.
For more information go to http://www.geronimocreek.org/