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Volunteers remove thousands of pounds of trash from Lake Travis

Sunday marked the 29th year volunteers have spent a day scuba diving and picking up trash in the water and on the shoreline around Lake Travis.

AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of community members went out to Lake Travis for the largest waterway cleanup in Central Texas Sunday morning.

After just a few hours, volunteers were able to pull out over 7,000 pounds of trash from Lake Travis and the surrounding parks.

“If it goes on the ground, it goes in the lake, and we get our drinking water from the lake,” said Adrienne Longenecker, the executive director of the Colorado River Alliance.

The Texas Colorado River is the source of drinking water for 1.5 million people in Central Texas. That’s why 29 years ago, community members wanted to create the Lake Travis Cleanup.

“It started just like a lot of things in Austin,” Longenecker said. “It was just a group of people that wanted to do something good for the environment.”

The group had 12 different cleanup sites Sunday morning, when volunteers pulled out everything from phones, to ladders and even a drone. The Colorado River Alliance said the item they find polluting the river most is single-use plastic containers.

The cleanup has become a tradition for many families in the area.

“We started about three years ago when we moved to Austin,” said April Riener, a volunteer. “We were just trying to find a way to get involved in the community and learn about where we moved to.”

Riener volunteers for the event every year with her two sons, Owen and Jaxson.

“We see the impact, we know how important it is to take care of where we live and just to do our part,” Riener said.

Now, her sons share the same passion she has.  

“Being able to know that we're making a difference in the community and keeping our lakes clean so that everybody can use the lakes, it just brings joy and happiness and then we can spread it to other people, so that we’re all happy,” Owen Riener said.

Longenecker said it was special to see all 605 volunteers working Sunday morning. 

"I get really excited when people come out to clean up the trash because water is so important," Longenecker said. "It's the most important conversation we can have right now, and so seeing everybody, like especially this group of Girl Scouts, like 20 young Girl Scouts that just went out to pick up the trash, it really it gives me hope."

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