The ninth annual Joint Base San Antonio Basura Bash had a stellar turnout of volunteers Feb. 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston’s Salado Creek Park.

“We had more than 500 people register for the event and even more showed up the day of the event,” said Sarah Otto from the 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron and this year’s organizer. “The Basura Bash is an annual one-day, all-volunteer event to clean the San Antonio Watershed. At JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, this was the ninth year of the cleanup effort.”

It was definitely a joint service effort, as hundreds of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen were all in to help clean out thousands of pounds of trash from an important waterway which runs through JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, working throughout the morning to clear out a year’s worth of accumulated debris. 

There were also many representatives of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and many other local organizations digging in, getting busy and lending a hand in picking up all manners of trash and debris from the creek.

A steady flow of volunteers came and went from the park area throughout the morning, each determined to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a difference in the appearance of the creek and park areas. Entire families made a morning of the event.

Beyond conserving the waterways’ natural resources and protecting their flora and fauna, the Basura Bash serves to educate volunteers and the general public on proper waste disposal, ways to reduce trash and recycling.

Whenever storm water flows instead of soaking into the ground (storm water runoff), it goes to creeks and rivers, picking up contaminants along the way. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks and streets prevent storm water runoff from naturally soaking into the ground. 

Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, waste from pets and other pollutants before it flows into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland or coastal waterway. Even soil and grass clippings can have an adverse effect on the aquatic life in our waterways.

Polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people. 

Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediments also fill up the storage capacity of our reservoirs and can destroy aquatic habitats.

Attendance has steadily increased over the past few years, Otto noted. “Last year, we has about 400 people come out. The year before that, it was about 200. This is one of the most well-attended of the Basura Bash events in San Antonio.”

Kayaks and canoes were available, thanks to outdoor recreation to those adventurous volunteers who wanted to clean up from the source on the creek itself. Gloves, bags and other equipment were also provided.

Hosted by the 802nd CES, the Basura Bash is and supported by the MWR Outdoor Rec Staff, the Operation’s Heavy Repair Shop, and many other individuals representing their units across JBSA.

“Thanks go out to all volunteers who have helped make this event a success for the past eight years,” Otto said. “While the Basura Bash is a one-day event, you can help keep our waterways clean every day, by making sure trash makes it to the proper receptacles, that items in the bed of your trucks are secured, that chemicals are cleaned from your driveways, and pet waste picked up and disposed of.”

The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Basura Bash was a part of a larger effort throughout San Antonio that saw local residents, community groups and organizations collecting trash at 20 different locations that connect to San Antonio’s watershed.

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