An Observer Photographer Discovers a "Wasteland" of Trash Along White Rock Creek

Categories: News
newcreek1.JPG
Photos by Dylan Hollingsworth
Observer contributor Dylan Hollingsworth was out at White Rock Creek yesterday shooting his nieces Autumn Hollingsworth and Chassidy Levassuer when he came across this -- "a wasteland of debris," as he put it when we spoke this afternoon. This is the spot: Goforth Road, only a few yards from the White Rock Stables.

This morning, Dylan posted a series of photos from yesterday's fetid field trip to his Facebook page, labeled as "Some Kind of Sad." And the response, he says, was remarkable -- before long, folks began circulating the photos (Brother Bill Holston shot me the first photo you see after the jump), and Sarah Fulk and Carissa Byers quickly began organizing a clean-up effort scheduled to begin Sunday at 3 p.m. Though, be warned: "The photographs alone don't tell the entire story," says Dylan. (Nevertheless, I went ahead and sent 'em to some folks at Dallas City Hall -- like Park and Rec head Paul Dyer and Mary Suhm.) Bring your rubbers. More photos on the other side, with a slide show here. Watch where you step.

Update at 4:40 p.m.: I sent the city manager this item as soon as I posted it. Suhm replied, moments ago, that she is passing along the information to Kris Sweckard, director of the Office of Environmental Quality, and Errick Thompson, head of Stormwater Management. The two of them, she says, will "get involved."

whiterockcreek1.JPG
Photos by Dylan Hollingsworth

creek2.JPG

creek3.JPG
My Voice Nation Help
61 comments
Tom Cuddy
Tom Cuddy

I have two eddies that I clean after every storm. I'm in Austin one is the confluence of Tannehill Branch and Boggy Creek. It does help but I do not need a canoe. Thank You for what you do!I lived in Vermont and Connecticut and New york which had bottle bills. It was great! If you are young and broke you pick up your friends bottles from the night before and you got breakfast

Tom Cuddy
Tom Cuddy

Austin has places where to water eddies and huge piles of debris, mostly H2o and other drink bottles,styrofoam and white grocery bags. We are starting to deal with containers and bags in some cities and countries but what about all that syrofoam. We use more. Remember when coffee came in a cardboard cup?or soda?

Rebecca
Rebecca

Down at White Rock Creek right now. The section I'm at looks pretty nice. Just saw a coyote and googled about coyotes along the creek and noticed this article. My idea is for each person who uses the trail or visits the creek to bring along a trash bag and collect some trash each time they're out. Along with city efforts, good citizens could work to keep their city clean!

Sherry Smith
Sherry Smith

This is very sad... I applaud Dylan's efforts for making everyone aware of this issue. It's bad enough that we have polluted the Gulf but, this is in our own back yard. Kudos for change!!

Larry
Larry

I hope that the cleanup does more than simply bag it and toss in the landfill.

Yes, there are tons of plastic bottles but those can easily be sent to the recycling center for processing so they don't sit in the landfill forever.

I'm the sort of person who will stop and pick up bottles, cans or trash and toss it in the back of my truck until I get home where it is placed in the blue can by my garage so it sickens me that this much is present.

BUT, we must also consider that White Rock takes trash like this from as far away as Plano because rains and flash floods pick up bottles and other trash tossed out on every street or sidewalk north of the lake until it hits a collection point like this.

Since this is a known catch point, it might be a good idea for those who use the park to set up quarterly clean-up events where they can insure this doesn't grow to such a level. More often if needed and maybe even a week or so after a heavy rain such as we just had.

Hopefully the snakes and gaters will move from the area as people show up and no one gets hurt.

tom Hendricks
tom Hendricks

DO, be sure to follow up on this and see if they clean it up.

Alien
Alien

All your base are belong to us.

There is no time.

Laker
Laker

I live across from the lake and am aware of some of the activity there. It is a tragic shame! I have often wondered why there aren't fines imposed on those who have picnics and cook outs and walk away from their filthy mess. Pizza boxes and drink cans are floating by the ducks near the old boat house. I think that we need to have policemen on bikes enforce the littering. A fine will stop so much of the trashing of our lake.

Stann
Stann

Think of how many organizations could raise money for kids and other non-profit orgs if there was a bottle bill. It would be a win-win-win .. cleaner-money for cause-job creation. Texas is big and has a big pile of money waiting to be picked up. Corporations are supporting the bottle bill efforts in Texas. We are messing with Texas to make it a better Texas!!

Peggy Georgi
Peggy Georgi

Reduce, reuse, and recycle.The saying starts with the hardest part. People buy more stuff than they need, then they don't want it and it ends up like this. Reduse what you buy and think about it twice before you throw it away.

scott
scott

Chris, you've obviously never noticed the dry creek that runs to Town Lake under 6th street. Austin has the same problems. In the sensitive recharge zones there is a lot of signage, but there isn't any development there either.

I spent a Summer picking up cigarette butts in New Mexico. I still occasionally throw my butts out, but I smoke filterless, roll yer owns. The litter lasts about a week and the spent tobacco enriches the soil. Fiberglass filters take a decade to decompose, the cotton ones a year. I also try to crush my butts to bits too. It really amazed me that people would smoke, enjoying the mountains, and then flick their cigarette butt in that general direction.

Melinda Ramsey
Melinda Ramsey

If we had cash deposits on bottles as we did when I was growing up you can bet this wouldn't be a problem. Speaking from experience most people are responsible less likely to litter with items that have monetary value & many will make the effort to pick up trash they can get money for. I myself was able to eat or buy a pack of cigarettes while in college because of deposit refunds.

Stennie
Stennie

Scenes like these photos on Buffalo Bayou in Houston are what inspired Mike Garver to build a special boat to vaccum the plastic up and out of Buffalo Bayou.

After routinely cleaning up Buffalo Bayou for a couple of years, he realized that a Bottle Bill for Texas was the best hope to finally correct stop the plastic at the source, us!

Social mores can and do change! How many of us grew up and raised our children NOT wearing car seat belts?

We can do this, it will just take a lot of Texans to make it happen.

chris von danger
chris von danger

Why is it in other cities such as Austin and Houston, people on the govermental level would be in a total uproar already concerning this level of pollution in a creek, river, or bayou, yet here in right-tilting Dalla$$ the mouth breathers on the city council are more concerned about charging you $25 bucks for a garage/yard sale permit. This city has some seriously messed up priorities and it shows in cases like this. I for one support the Texas Bottle Bill, as it makes sense not just here, but to help clean up the beaches, creeks and rivers statewide..

Stennie
Stennie

If Texas had beverage container refunds, like 11 other states, there would be an economic incentive to keep the majority of this trash out of our waterways and oceans!!

All that plastic is a resource in the wrong place!

To find out more and to support the Texas beverage deposit effort by contacting your legislator, go to www.TexasBottleBill.org.

patsy gillham
patsy gillham

Here is an opportunity to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE FLOATING BEVERAGE CONTAINERS! Join www.texasbottlebill.com to pass a Recycling Refund Bill on all alum, glass, and plastic beverage containers. A 5-10c deposit, fully refunded when container is returned to be recycled. Works in 11 states, 12 Canadian provinces and 13 countries. Check our web site and www.bottlebill.org for national and international data on deposit systems.Contact your leg. at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us Your voice today is your vote in 2011! There is cash in our trash and it is in the palm of our hands!Patsy G

Matt
Matt

Makes you wonder if people would be throwing all this plastic and glass into our parks if there was a rebate program in place. Texas needs a "Bottle Bill".

Cornflakeguy
Cornflakeguy

Looks like just some random pond at Six Flags....at the BEGINNING of the season.

scott
scott

I like the ducks that splash like they are lame, drawing you up/down stream they must suppose, past their little ducklings huddled under a tree root. The snakes are the only vertebrate that would hurt anyone, though god knows what that water is like. We've tipped a couple of times and it is a repulsive event.

I've thought about bringing a chain saw to cut the trees that block the creek, but have never bothered, don't want to have my 3rd entry into the water and lose/ruin my saw. The farthest I've ever gotten was up to the tennis courts at Fair Oaks, but that was years ago.

Praxx
Praxx

I'm with DM. This is fairly common... I've seen this many times before paddling up WRC before the NWHighway bridge construction blocked off the Creek.

If someone's coming to cleanse this area, please do be careful. I have see mink and coyote and foxes in the immediate area before, and they aren't too keen on people.

DM
DM

I use to canoe up White Rock Creek. These logjams of debris are usually at their worse after a big rain storm. I assume the city does some clean up occasionally at the creeks entrance into the lake. I have seen 4 foot snakes sunning themselves on over hanging tree branches over the creek. There are coyotes, bobcats, foxes, snapping turtles and skunks too. This is a wild forest area, not a pristine city park. Volunteers will need guidance here! It can be dangerous. Did I mention the bacteria in the water?

John Greenan
John Greenan

Scott & Mr. Mean have it right.

I've been canoeing up White Rock Creek for a decade and the large concentrations of trash show up where a deadful or eddy blocks the current.

After a medium rain there is a ton of stuff. After a big wash most of it is cleared out--flushed down into White Rock Lake where someone will finally pick it up.

Picking up the trash would only help if you did it continuously--and a lot of places are hard to reach and some can only be reached by canoe (not enough room for trash in a kayak).

Put a deposit on all bottles and you'd fix 90% of the problem. Ban styrofoam containers and you'd fix another 5%.

Or we can just wait for people to behave, but all the storm sewers feed into the creek so when it rains anything loose will end up there.

I very much doubt that the problem can be improved for more than the time until it rains by picking up the trash.

Richard
Richard

The solution is for people to stop littering. If this trash is cleaned up then some new trash will flow into the creek after the next rain event.

Putting screens on the storm drain inlets will not work because then litter will collect at the screened inlets and cause flooding on the street.

People living and working in Dallas need to be responsible and throw their waste into a recycling bin or trash can. Prevention is the only sustainable solution. We can't afford to have people clean up our creeks after every rain event.

Doug
Doug

No shoes? Lordy I hope they've had their shots.

Donn Coburn
Donn Coburn

Nice documentation, Dylan. Sadly, this is only one of many areas of the creek plagued by flotillas of flotsam.

johnnapiranha
johnnapiranha

anyone who recklessly discards trash thinking that single piece of litter won't really hurt anything needs to see this image. some people don't reflect on their individual accountability & ability to dramatically affect their environment. your talent as a photographer, Dylan, brings the point home that every individual can impact the world as much--positively or negatively--as there are possibilities that exist. thank you.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

The trash has always been there! I bike along the trail for 8l years plus and it is always full of trash. Good times and bad economic times! Why have not our taxes taken care of this over the years? I mean this has been going on for at least 8 years plus! The argument about the budget and more taxes is a red herring in that the city�s policy on clean up has been in effect for 8 YEARS! Yet another example of miss placed priorities. Several years ago I noted a homeless camp along the trail along Skillman and Abrams! And of course the trash center off Walnut Hill does not help either. Another example of the failure of the city. �Get involved?� Where have they been for the last 8 years!

The truth is that the city does not care. They only want more money and no responsibility. The city council and staff should either resign (council) or fired (senior staff).

Angela Ward-Wright
Angela Ward-Wright

Dylan, thank you for bringing these images to our attention...now what can we do about it...I live at White Rock Lake and every time it rains, all the flith, debris and waste come upon the shore...For the Love of the Lake has clean up days and they are posted on their website and on the White Rock Park Entrance sign on Buckner Blvd. I do not think we can wait for the city to approach this, which is very sad...as citizens, residents...if you see trash pick it up...obviously this sort of mess requires more than one person. I will contact the FTLOTL and see if they can schedule a clean up for this area...

Wanna Knoww
Wanna Knoww

Why don't those of us who love the lake, organize a weekend to clean-up that garbage? Instead of relying on government to do their job while they are busy shuttering pools, rec centers and libraries....lets organize and do it ourselves, and do it right? Anyone else interested?

Osteology
Osteology

It's primarily a lake shoreline event (rather than upstream along the creek) but there is already a group doing just that once a month:   http://www.whiterocklake.org/.  Spread the word and I'm sure it could expand to include the creek. Cleaning the creek upstream is easier done with groups of folks in canoes........

scott
scott

Ummm, that's a permanent feature of White Rock Creek. I live nearby and canoe up and down the creek often. The trash comes from parking lots and streets, they wash through the storm sewers into the creeks.

If you want pics of this, call me, we can canoe and find many of these, anytime--actually when it's not so hot out please.

It is good that they are paying lip service to fixing this. Odd duck that I am, I looked past the spillway to find where WWC meets the Tinity (near the waste water facility) Not only is this almost impossible to access without pulling surreptitiously under the highway; I found the creek there littered with used tires half buried in mud.

I can't understand why the city can't get jail trustees down there to clean out the creeks. I pet there'd be no shortage of volunteers. Again, I'm skeptical anything will be done.

The only systematic way to inhibit this trash from washing into the creeks would be to put screens in the storm sewers, which would inhibit storm water flow. So, the tax would make the most sense.

Another thing you didn't see was the 40 grocery carts that line the creek as well, a float trip would show this. It seems most of these come from the Tom Thumb/frmr Simon David shopping center at Skillman Abrams. Also, in this same floodway is the Vickery apt cluster which no doubt contributes to the litter.

Despite all the trash, there are 4-5 egret families, some swans, hawks, owls, and many various ducks. The creek is beautiful if one can look beyond all the trash. As I said, I hope this actually turns to more action than lip service but I doubt it.

Sammy
Sammy

DogandCat has it right: in Sacramento there's not a plastic bottle or can in sight because everyone is grabbing them to turn in for recycling $. It bugs me a little bit when I pay that extra few cents when I buy a soda, but when I see the end result, I think it's worth every penny.

Jake
Jake

I had family members from Seattle stop by for a visit and while we were driving by Turtle Creek they were in awe. Not because of the mix of nature and urban landscape, instead they couldn't believe all of the trash in the water. And that's the nicer part of town!

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

Don't Mess With Texas !

-So much for sloganeering...

Mike's baseball weenie
Mike's baseball weenie

So the cool thing is that you can toss your bottles in the river up stream knowing that it will eventually end up concentrated in one place. Sort of like nature's designated dump. Even better because now the city can come and clean up the site and recycle the bottles.

bobbyv
bobbyv

I'm no super enviormentalist, but everytime I see something like that, I can't help but think what a beautiful planet this would be if humans weren't on it. We deserve to be wiped out.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hollingsworth wrapping his niece in the flag is ham-handed symbolism, man.

Aint that America you and me baby aint that America the home of the free....

Betty Culbreath
Betty Culbreath

Sheriff Lupe has 7,000 inmates down at Trinity River jail forty of those people could come and clean that trash in a couple of hours.Dallas is so slow on using available resources for job like this.The inmates would love to get out into sun and work. The low security inmates who are in there serving a misdemeanor charge.Other cities and Counties use inmate labor why not Dallas?

cp
cp

This isn't a big surprise, people. Anywhere there's water in Dallas, it's gonna be filled with runoff trash like this. And yes, we need to impose a five-cent fee on plastic and glass.... everywhere we have done cleanups, there's not an aluminum can to be found.

Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany

I went past here often until the NW Highway/Lawther fiasco closed that intersection. The trash is always heartbreaking and the people fishing there FOR FOOD blows my mind. This is just a small and visual piece of our horrible environmental impact. Can't see the fine particulates in the air, the pesticides and herbicides in the storm water, etc. Yea, imagine...this is just the pollution you CAN SEE and maybe not even as impactful on our Cancer rates, asthma cases, neurological disorders in children, etc.

Whew, now I am really feeling disgusted with humanity.

fraxinus
fraxinus

Nice work, and congrats on stirring the city into (maybe) action. Note to some of the commenters: not a new phenomenon, and not something that happens only when it rains. See 2004 photo at http://photos1.blogger.com/266... .

Sarah Al-Zubi
Sarah Al-Zubi

Way to go uncovering this horrible and disgusting mess! Hopefully we, as the community, can get together and clean it up! I am in anytime! Yes, if you decide to drink bottled water AT LEAST RECYCLE THE BOTTLE!!!!

Aaron Page
Aaron Page

Wow, I have never seen an disaster exposed so beautifully.

DogAndCat
DogAndCat

a .5C per container would eliminate that as every drunk and addict in dallas would be down there stabbing each other silly to get those nickles

of course then we would have to figure out what to do with all those dead bodies.....but they do degrade faster than plastic

PS one should not wear the American flag and tell that girl to put on some shoes

Anonymous
Anonymous

Suhm replied, moments ago, that she is passing along the information to Kris Sweckard, director of the Office of Environmental Quality, and Errick Thompson, head of Stormwater Management. The two of them, she says, will "get involved."

Translation : We intend on using this as another talking point to raise taxes because we all know the answer to all of lifes problems can be solved by giving the government more money.

donw
donw

I remember when I got a canteen for cubscouts. I thought that was one of the most righteous gifts I ever got. Maybe it really was. I watch people loading up their carts at the store with cases of bottled water and am amazed at how we've bought into the joke.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...