Kevin Develle says he is by no means an activist. Nor does he consider himself an environmentalist.
But the scene he finds every day while walking the West Lake Houston bridge over the San Jacinto river, connecting Atascocita and Kingwood, has become too disturbing to ignore.
“There is trash everywhere, under that bridge,” he said. “Some of it probably floated down from upstream and collected there, and has probably been there for a long time, but a lot of that trash also looks like it was tossed from cars as they drive across the bridge. I hate seeing this. It has turned into a big dumping ground. ”
According to Houston city council member Mike Sullivan, who under former Mayor Bill White called for the formation of a committee to oversee water quality issues around Lake Houston and other area waterways, two main concerns with the San Jacinto river are sedimentation and pollution.
“It is a critical issue,” he said. “The Coastal Water Authority has a contract with the city for debris removal, and we will see if it encompasses that particular area under that bridge.”
Sullivan said that it is not unusual for debris to collect in the nooks and crannies of a riverbed, especially after a period of rain. If the city’s financial resources and priorities allow, he said, his office will look into a clean-up effort.
“But the government is not the solution for everything,” Sullivan said, calling area residents to shoulder some of the responsibility to keep their community clean and take action. “Businesses and organizations often adopt a street – that’s how you get things done. The annual city-sponsored Trash Bash is coming up, and that’s a perfect example of volunteers cleaning up the banks of Lake Houston and the San Jacinto.”
Develle, who has walked the bridge regularly for the last five years, said he is saddened by the defacement of the riverbanks.
“I don’t want to imagine what the bottom of the lake looks like. This is our drinking water,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of wild areas anymore. There tare ducks, swan, pelicans, deer – it’s one of the few wild places that’s left, but people have no respect for the environment.”
A recent press release issued by Crime Stoppers of Houston stated that illegal dumping and the effort to clean up the trash others left behind costs the city nearly $5 million each year.
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