When getting ready for a river trip to New Braunfels this summer make sure you leave a few things off your checklist, starting with beverage cans and cups. The most recent controversial splash in New Braunfels, forty-five miles south of Austin, has been the ban of disposable containers on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers within the city limits. Last November, supporters and residents in New Braunfels passed the disposable container ban, with 58 percent of the votes in favor of the ban. Since then, there have been many issues stirring around with both sides making strong valid points and accusations.
The German influenced city, New Braunfels, has attracted millions of tourists over the past decades. With cold-water springs flowing through the city, and home to one of the most renowned waterparks in the country, New Braunfels is an ideal place to visit during the sizzling Texas summers. With that being said, many locals have become fed up with all the trash and garbage that a lot of the tourists and irresponsible residents leave behind. Many people in the community have always pointed out that all the accumulated trash in the rivers could potentially put their sources of drinking water as well as habitats for endangered species in jeopardy. It just took the city some time, but New Braunfels finally put their foot down and addressed this issue and is now taking steps to project their community for future generations.
On the other side of the spectrum, the disposable container ban has put fire in some people’s eyes. By taking away their rights to have canned and cupped beverages in the river, people feel like the city is also taking away from their river experience. Many people are also claiming that the ban is in place to indirectly attempt to eliminate alcohol on the river, which the city attempted and failed to do in 2000. Another large drawback people have with the disposable container ban is the economic effect that will come with it. River tourism is a huge portion of the cities earnings and if people decide to take their money elsewhere, New Braunfels could take a big hit. According to sources, if the ban even spooks off just five percent of the cities’ river rafters, businesses in the area could lose about $20 million this year.
Ever though the ban was passed last November, the battle seems to have just begun. Bryan Miranda, New Braunfels city councilman, will be headlining a recall election next month in result of voters signing a petition to remove him from office. The petitioners needed only 150 signatures and wound up with a whopping 279. On top of that, a handful of residents and businessman are suing the Texas Land Commissioner as well as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for managing municipal solid waste in an illegal manner. It appears like it’s been a rough ride on where to draw the line with this issue. Nonetheless, something had to be done in order to preserve nature and keeping it intact for generations to come. Hopefully both sides can come together and see eye to eye in the mere future.
– Jarred Garza, Sierra Club Intern