North Texas Daily

Denton active in cleaning water supply

Denton active in cleaning water supply

Denton active in cleaning water supply
October 02
08:34 2013

Andrew Freeman / Staff Writer

Pre-registration for Denton’s annual Stream Clean, a fall waterway cleanup event to clear up the litter that accumulates in streams, creeks and lakes, is open now until Nov. 1.

The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 9, where on-site registering will be available, but by pre-registering, volunteers will be able to receive their t-shirts and supplies during early check in Nov. 6-8.

“The main thing we want to get across is that it’s a way to get the community to get involved,” said David Hunter, manager of watershed protection and industrial pre-Treatment. “One of the many things we have to do is make people aware.”

Stream Clean has been an event for more than a decade now, and is part Keep Denton Beautiful and a campaign called “Reverse Litter,” a project that many cities, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield and the Tarrant Regional Water District, are also participating in.

“One thing Reverse Litter is doing is called ‘Ten on Tuesday,’” Hunter said. “It challenges us to take the time to pick up ten items of litter every Tuesday and is a simple way to convey what we’re doing.”

Every year, Stream Clean picks up hundreds of bags full of trash recyclables. Last year about 500 volunteers showed up for the event.

“We will easily fill up the bed of a truck and trailers with trash bags,” Hunter said. “We find everything from washers and tires, to last year when we found a hot tub someone illegally disposed of.”

Biology professor Tom La Point, who specializes in aquatic toxicology, stresses how important taking care of our water is.

“One thing I’ve discovered, especially through research I’ve done here in Texas, is that water quality is just as important as water quantity,” La Point said. “It is one of the most critical things these days.”

Cans, plastics, tires and plastic bags can easily be lost or can fly out of garbage cans even if properly put away, and are some of the largest pollutants of waterways.

“There is a huge concern about this tremendous number of bags,” La Point said. “You see them all around, and they almost always end up in waterways.”

La Point said this is a problem because bags take a long time to decompose, and when they make their way out to the ocean, they cause problems for sea life. Sea turtles, for example, mistake them for jellyfish and eat them, which can be harmful for them.

“And while [Stream Clean] won’t stop chemical pollution, it does help visual pollution,” LaPoint said. “Cans, clothes, tires, bottles – you name it.”

Some students at UNT are conscious about water conservation and what they can do to get involved.

“Water is essential for life,” said Alexis Torres, geography junior and vice president of the UNT Geography Club. “Cleaning up the water is just one way to help, and it raises awareness. I use reusable water bottles and cloth bags for when I grocery shop.”

La Point offered suggestions on how students can actively participate in keeping Denton’s waterways cleaner.

“The main thing is to just not litter,” LaPoint said. “Just walk down Bonnie Brae and you can see all kinds of beer bottles and cans and different things that will always end up in waterways as gravity pulls them down.”

La Point said other things, such as using less pesticide on your lawns and picking up after your dog, would help the water too, as rain will carry items into Lake Lewisville.

“One of the things people do, students especially because it’s just more economical, is change their own oil, and some people still practice dumping it down storm drains,” La Point said. “And what they don’t realize is all storm drains run into the Trinity River, and that’s a major pollution thing.”

He said that everything from plastic to cardboard can be recycled.

“Denton has one of the best recycling programs in the country,” La Point said. “Denton is really good about that.

Large objects like refrigerators must be dropped off at the landfill. Paints, paint cans and solvents must be called ahead with an exact list to be picked up curbside, and washers can be dropped off as well. However, hazardous materials like light bulbs will be picked up for free if the city is called in advance.

“We need to learn to use the resources the city provides,” La Point said. “We pay for it, so we might as well use it.”

Volunteers pick up trash during the City of Denton Stream Clean event last year. -Feature photo courtesy of the City of Denton. 

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