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Single-use container ban in San Marcos parks is 'definitely a win' for the river

The San Marcos River flowing through a park filled with trees on a sunny day.
Gabriel C. Pérez
KUT News
Similar single-use container bans have also been passed in Martindale and New Braunfels.

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Tubing down the San Marcos River will look a little different this summer.

The City of San Marcos passed a “can ban” ordinance banning single-use beverage containers on the river within city limits and in certain areas of city parks.

This includes, but is not limited to, single-use containers made of metal, aluminum, cardboard, Styrofoam, plastic or glass. The ban was made official at a San Marcos City Council meeting in February and is now in effect as of May 1.

“The number of visitors to the San Marcos River has increased exponentially over the years, and we do see a lot more trash along the riverside parks and in the river,” said Virginia Parker, executive director of the San Marcos River Foundation.

City Council members said the ban would help keep the local waterways clean. Similar bans have also been passed in the nearby cities of Martindale and New Braunfels.

“This is a big deal for our community,” said City Council Member Jude Prather. He believes the similarities in bans across local rivers will be useful for visitors. “This just becomes a known fact. When you float the rivers in Central Texas, you don't bring single-use containers for beverages.”

Thinking of going tubing? Here's what to know.

Picnic areas will be unaffected by this ordinance. What the city calls “No Zones” banning single-use drink containers will be marked with signs and include areas close to the river.

"We do recognize it can be a little confusing," said Christie Murillo, marketing and outreach coordinator for the city's Parks and Recreation Department. "The closer you are to the river or when you're in the river, those are where those new restrictions are going to apply."

According to the ordinance, violating the new rule could result in a misdemeanor citation and a fine of up to $500. However, Murillo said the city will focus on educating the public and raising awareness before issuing citations for violating the new rules.

“We feel confident that the educational piece will be sufficient for 90% of people,” Parker said. "This is definitely a win for the San Marcos River.”

The new rules add that people can't carry, drink or throw away alcoholic containers of five fluid ounces or less, single-use or not, in both riverfront parks and on the water. This would include things like Jell-O shot cups. (It's already illegal to drink or carry open containers of alcohol in San Marcos city parks. Drinking is allowed, though, while actively floating on the river.)

If you're thinking about bringing a cooler on the river, the new rules also say you're limited to a maximum capacity of 30 quarts per person.

Maya Fawaz is KUT's Hays County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @mayagfawaz.
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