by VERONICA GARCIA-GORDON
Love it or hate it, the “can ban” rules at the river. And if you’re not prepared, you could be asked to lose your lunch or toss your tallboys.
New Braunfels city officials recently passed an ordinance that bans disposable containers on the Guadalupe and Comal rivers. While drinking alcohol on the river is allowed, it must be kept in a non-disposable container. City Ordinance No. 2011-65, also known as the “can ban,” specifically bans metal and aluminum cans, glass containers, styrofoam cups and containers, cardboard containers, paper sacks, boxes, paper napkins and paper towels. Examples of prohibited items are plastic bottles, zip bags, snacks, juice boxes and wine in a box.
New Braunfels Police Lt. Steve Hanna said the department hasn’t seen many problems with enforcing the ban, but education is the priority for keeping compliance high.
“We have park rangers stationed in the parks before you get to the river,” he said. “They’ve been explaining the rules, and most everyone is complying. Folks from out of town are being very receptive. “
Hanna said that no arrests have been made for non-compliance and that arrests at the parks are lower than last year at the same time.
“The caliber of people coming out is better,” he said. “And the behavior overall is quite courteous. We’ve seen more families and the river seems more family oriented.”
In 20 years on the job, this is the first time Hanna has received no calls to the river for a fight in progress.
“That’s almost unheard of,” he added.
“We are taking a pro-active approach to education rather than enforcement,” he said. “Our goal is to have a clean and safe river.”
“Overall, we’ve seen good turnouts,” he added. “It’s been steady, but not overwhelming.”
San Antonio resident Tommy Meek didn’t let the new rules keep him from enjoying an adult beverage on a hot day at the Comal River. He simply put his Crown and Coke in a thermal cooler.
“I was aware of the rules about disposable containers because I have family that lives at Lake McQueeney,” he said. “I knew you could still drink alcohol on the river.”
Meek said the ordinance is a good way to keep trash out of the rivers.
“There are plenty of containers people can use, like Tupperware,” he said. Meek added that he plans to return to the river this summer because of the heat.
Diane McMayon of The Woodlands doesn’t drink alcohol, but said she wishes she could bring bottled water on her tubing trip on the Comal.
“That’s the only thing,” she said. “But it really doesn’t bother us. We think it’s a good thing.”
San Marcos city officials are also educating the public about the rules at their river. The City Council approved a ban on alcohol in city parks that takes effect January 2013. In the meantime, attendance at the river is comparable to past year’s, said city spokeswoman Mellisa Millecam.
“We have thousands of visitors come to the river every summer,” Millecam said. “Whether it’s a result of the ordinance in New Braunfels, I can’t say. Our river is an enormously popular, appealing place and it’s always absolutely packed.”
Marilyn Craft and her husband Herb traveled from Georgetown to float the river at Rio Vista Park in San Marcos recently. The couple didn’t go to New Braunfels only because of the distance. They learned about the city’s rules online by going to the city of San Marcos website.
“We don’t have a problem with any of the restrictions,” Marilyn said. “We’re having so much fun.”
Herb agreed and said the river seems clean and safe.
“It’s just fine with me,” he added. “The rules help keep it nice and pristine here for us.”
Glass and stryofoam are already prohibited in San Marcos city parks. Additional information is listed on the city website at www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us.
Meanwhile, at Don’s Fish Camp in Martindale, the rules are pretty relaxed. And Don is making sure everyone knows. He’s taken out ads and bought billboards along Interstate 35 touting his laid-back atmosphere hoping to lure patrons from surrounding rivers.
“We don’t have the restrictions that the New Braunfels rivers have or the city of San Marcos parks have,” according to their website.
There are a couple of rules that apply at the camp: no glass and no styrofoam.
- San Marcos officially bans alcohol along river 05/2/2012
- San Marcos to ban alcohol along river 03/29/2012
- San Marcos council votes to ban alcohol in city parks 03/21/2012