Effect of Homelessness on the Creek

An Emotional Ride Along the Guadalupe River!

By Sarat Lue

On Sep 12, I had the opportunity to participate in an event at Guadalupe River with Team 222, led by Steve Holmes. I have never walked along this river before, so I did not know what to expect. Nonetheless, Steve informed me that they had cleaned up this area a few months back. At that point, I figured that this area should not be too bad. How naïve of me. When we first descended toward the river, it was completely dry, which was great thing because that would allow us to remove any legacy trash on the riverbed. In the beginning, there weren’t any sign of trash; however, that moment of joy quickly faded as we approached an encampment. My emotion went from happiness to boiling rage. See below picture and you will understand why.
  

Initially, I was hoping to clean up the legacy trash on the river bed, but that was not the case. A total of 10 volunteers spent over two hours cleaning up the trash left by homeless people. By the end of the event, we counted a total of 70 bags of trash plus some bulky items. We estimated that we removed nearly a ton of trash, if not more. See below for before and after picture.

Hazardous Items

Don’t get me wrong, I have had a better experience with homeless folks. In the previous cleanups, they actually helped us during our event. Unfortunately, the folks that we encountered during this event did not want to lift a finger. They stood by their tents while we cleaned up the mess they made. I truly cannot express, on paper, my anger toward them. Aside from litter, we also picked up 152 batteries, which are extremely hazardous to the environment. Without a power supply, homeless people depend heavily on the use of batteries.

Imagine if there was water flowing in this river. We would not have been able to remove all of this trash. 

Imagine the damage this would have caused to our waterway. 

On another note, how long will this section of the river remain clean with these homeless folks continuing to live there?

Encampment

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