New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 30, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
A Herald-Zeitung special report
Series at a glance
■ RWER HEALTH: A man who has been diving the Comal River every day for decades says he's never seen it this bad. The bed of the river is nothing but garbage and there is little life in die river.
■ MW DOES IT WORK aSCTMfflET: Sacramento County, CaW instituted an alcohol ban with help from the state on busy stretches of river during holiday weekends. The ban eliminated many of their issues with rowdy, disrespectful river users.
■ FOURTH OF JULY. What is the city's strategy I predictions for the Fourth of July weekend on the river?
■ WHO'S RESPONSIBLE?: What is the tourist industry's role in river behavior? They work to bring people here, do they have a responsibility to help control behavior or tourist attitudes? What about the outfitters? Whet is therr responsibility in controlling behavior? Liquor stores — do they have a responsibility? The city? And what happened to personal responsibility?
By LWKXKK) MOUttne
New Braunfels is not the first city to find ways of dealing with troublemakers on its waterways.
Many cities across the country have had various issues connected with water recreation, and many have found ways to limit the effects of the issues on the community. For instance, officials in Sacramento County, Calif., had problems with visitors to the American River bringing huge amounts of alcohol, getting drunk and behaving badly, said Ted Wolter, chief of staff for Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.
"The activity on the American River was so over the top there was even, at one point, an amateur 'Girls Gone Wild' video of the American River," Wolter said. "There's nudity — or there was at the time."
Wolter said much of the same behavior seen on New Braunfels' Comal River happened on the American River before the alcohol ban. Bad behavior included fighting, littering and trespassing.
Wolter said Sacramento County supervisors addressed the problem by imposing an alcohol
LAURA McKENZIE | Herald-Zeitung
Sgt. Chris Snyder, left, city river manager Nathan Pence and Sgt. Stephen Hanna watch the river activity near Hinman Island Park on Saturday afternoon.
ban on the river. Supervisors initially met a roadblock because the county does not own the river. The state does. What supervisors did, Wolter said, was get a state law passed banning alcohol on the river.
See BEHAVIOR, Page 14
Mostly sunny and hot
High: 98 LO»: 72
Vbl. 158 I No. 198 1 section. 14 pages
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First Protestant Church
of New Braunfels
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LANDA DOLPHINS FARE WELL IN CITY SWIM MEET PARKS & REC, 8New Braunfels
SERVING NEW BRAUNFELS SINCE 1852
► DROUGHT EFFECT
Seguin calls off fireworks
By Bob Thmton
City officials have reluctantly decided not to proceed with Seguin's fireworks show planned for Monday evening.
"We're going to cancel the fireworks," Mayor Betty Ann Matthies said Tuesday afternoon. "The safety of our community is our main priority."
She said the dec ision was made after the city received a directive from the Texas Department of Public Safety requesting all cities and counties not hold fireworks displays.
Matthies said the DPS directive was sent to Fire Chief Scott Mycue and Seguin Fire Department. She met with Mycue, Fire Marshal Greg Dreiss and City Manager Doug Faseler and the decision was made.
"I personally am very disappointed that we won't be able to have the fireworks," she said, adding that city officials planned to talk with the company that conducts the fireworks display and determine if the fireworks show might he postponed until a later date.
"Altnougn fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate holidays like the Fourth of July, we are urging cities, counties and families to cancel fireworks plans this year," DPS Director Steven C. McCraw said. "It's just tcx) dry, and our firefighting resources are stretched too thin to he able to cope with potentially massive outbreaks of fires caused by fireworks."
New Braunfels, Schertz, San Marcos and San Antonio have canceled their fireworks displays. Schertz is planning a laser show in its place.
The fireworks display at McQueeney's Lake Breeze Ski Lodge is still scheduled.
As of June 19, more than 3 million acres have burned in Texas during a fire season that started ihis past December.
City of New Braunfels River Manager Nathan Pence submitted these photos of aluminum cans collected from the Comal River following the Memorial Day weekend.
THE RIVER WILD: HERALD-ZEITUNG SPECIAL REPORT
LOOK OUT BELOW
State gives river clean bill of health, but local divers see changes on bottom
Calif, river supervisor: Ban booze and river troubles will disappear
By Greg Bowen
Despite the litter, beer cans and, yes, urine deposited in it by tubers, you won't find the Comal River on the state's list of troubled waters.
Portions of the San Marcos River, the San Antonio River, the Colorado River, the Nueces River, the Rio Grande River and many other rivers are on the list of rivers suffering water-quality issues.
But not the Comal.
In fact, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's 2010 assessment of the Comal River shows no water-quality concerns, with the river fully supporting its four designated categories of use: recreational use, public water supply use, general use and aquatic life use.
The state checked for such things as bacteria and toxic substances and found the river within water-quality standards.
Local divers viewpoint
But local divers say they've seen big changes in the river in recent years — some of which they suspect are because of the impact of tourism.
See TRASH, Page 14
■ City officials will be taking a long, hard look at how to pay for the increasingly difficult and expensive task of managing the city's tourist-crowded rivers.
Nathan Pence, the City of New Braunfels’ river manager, submitted this photo taken at the bottom of the Comal River following the Memorial Day weekend.