NEW BRAUNFELS — New Braunfels resident Roxane Duelm walked through the overgrown grass under a set of boat docks along the Guadalupe River picking up loose debris she came across Saturday morning.
“This place is near and dear to our hearts. There are so many memories down here,” Duelm said. “I think the noise is what’s so different. There used to be so many boats that would go through here and now it’s so different.”
More than two months since the spill gate failure at the Lake Dunlap Dam on May 14, the water source behind many of the waterfront properties has been reduced to a river channel, not allowing boats to go out anymore.
As Duelm picked up the trash the familiar sounds of boat motors were heard in the background as other area residents rode through the river searching for even more trash. Some were even taking canoes and kayaks out to help as well.
Many found trash cans, soda cans, a chair and what appeared to be a kiddie pool were discovered as they rode up and down the river.
“We’re just cleaning up the river, picking up trash and debris that’s been deposited by floods over the years,” said Matt Pustka, of Gruene Environmental Companies. “Working for an environmental construction company we deal a lot with hazardous waste remediation. We extract toxic waste out of the ground, just any type of debris removal and restoration. Being with a company like that it almost seemed natural to clean up the river.”
Pustka, a New Braunfels native, grew up swimming in the river and Lake Dunlap, so when the dam broke, he knew he had to do something.
“I grew up fishing and swimming in this river so it was kind of very important to me once the dam broke and the water rescinded to take care of it,” Pustka said. “When the dam failed it wasn’t really a shock, but we just had to react to the situation and make the best of it. That’s what we’re doing today. We’re a locally owned and operated company so this is our way to give back to the community.”
Gruene Environmental Companies partnered with Preserve Lake Dunlap Association in the cleaning efforts on Saturday with as many as 20 people showing up to volunteer their time.
“I think it’s a slow turnout this morning, but I think it’ll pick up,” PDLA Vice President John Ivy said. “I think one of the big reasons people are helping with this is a lot of people on this lake are really tight and we’re (PDLA) apart of the community since 1974. So businesses and everybody wants to step up and help us out.”
Duelm said it means a lot to see people lend a helping hand after the May 14 event.
“People are taking their time out of their day to come here and see a need to do something. It’s just a blessing that people care so much about the environment,” she said, “The way it happened wasn’t great, but it’s nice to see people step in and see what needs to be done. In a time where there’s so much going on to take the time to do something like this is so nice.”