Each summer, the San Marcos River experiences a seasonal influx of visitors resulting in increased pollution in the river. Outdoor events such as floating the river with friends and going to Float Fest bring big-name artists and plenty of out-of-towners to San Marcos.
Providing river and festival goers with alternatives to ecologically adverse habits will reduce the spike in pollution during the summer. Float Fest founder and organizer, Marcus Federman, believes festivals can be a platform to promote river preservation.
“I think that Float Fest can be the voice that changes the perception and attitude of people when they come down to the river,” Federman said.
Float Fest will release public service announcements featuring popular artists like MGMT to reiterate festival and environmental safety rules, according to Federman.
The San Marcos River is not only a hot spot for Bobcats to keep cool, it is also one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the southwestern United States. Dr. Thom Hardy, biology professor, said he has seen increased visitation and pollution of the river over the last few years.
“You look down and the whole bottom river, used by aquatic organisms, is now covered with beer cans, beer bottles and other refuse,” Hardy said.
Making sure all your river gear is biodegradable is a daunting task. Alternatively, employing a bungee system to your tubes and floating devices is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose anything on the river. This way, your coolers, flip flops and other valuables won’t turn into unintentional pollutants. Making use of mesh trash bags provided by some floating companies to hold waste on the river is an easy way to be responsible.
Zach Halfin, co-founder of The Eyes of the San Marcos River, describes the aftermath of past festivals as a result of poor preparation.
“I found a GoPro 6 last year! This isn’t stuff people necessarily want to lose; they’re underprepared,” Halfin said.
Last year an estimated 10,000 people attended Float Fest. This year, that number is estimated to double. To stay cool and avoid heat exhaustion at these jam-packed concerts, hydration is necessary. After seas of concertgoers dissipate, it is common to find a field of plastic bottles littering the riverbanks. Investing in a reusable or biodegradable water container can help cut down on this pollution. Reusable containers often come with the added benefit of insulation, keeping drinks cool while cutting down the carbon footprint.
Bobcats are used to getting around and climbing steep hills, but many use shortcuts like driving. To prevent fuel-based pollution, or a traffic gridlock, rent a bike on campus, skateboard or take a lesson from RipStik guy. For festivals, consider carpooling or taking a bus.
Implementing these alternatives will cut down on seasonal pollution and set a positive example to visitors of the San Marcos River. If Bobcats and locals are positive role models when it comes to pollution, the river will continue to serve as a source of fun and entertainment, a home to aquatic life and a host to concerts and festivals for years to come.