Travis County Parks and the Colorado River Alliance will hold the 28th annual Lake Travis Cleanup on Sept. 11.

The most recent cleanup took place in April and had a turnout of 350 volunteers from Texas and Oklahoma. Volunteers showed up to deep-clean styrofoam, microplastics and other trash from Devil’s Cove, Arkansas Bend, Hippie Hollow, Mansfield Dam, Starnes Island and other sites throughout Lake Travis.

The cleanup is a family-friendly event with volunteer options for all abilities, said Adrienne Longenecker, executive director of the Colorado River Alliance. Volunteers can clean the lake by diving underwater—which requires a certification, tanks and equipment—boating out to hard-to-reach areas or picking up trash on the shoreline. From there, trash is loaded into trucks and sent to disposal centers.

“This is definitely ‘get your hands dirty’ kind of work,’” Longenecker said.

In April, volunteers removed 423 bags of trash and collected 10,080 pounds of trash from Arkansas Bend and Webberville parks alone.

Katie Bedrich, program director of the Colorado River Alliance, said the cleanup is not only for the direct environmental outcomes, but also to raise awareness about how Austin’s freshwater sources affect the day-to-day lives of residents.

“If you live in the city of Austin, and you get your water bill from Austin Water, then that water originally came from the Texas Colorado River," Bedrich said. “We’re really lucky to have this amazing freshwater source that supports 100% of our municipal water.”

Further, the results of the cleanup give insight to how daily behaviors can unintentionally cause harm to Austin water sources.

“Anything that happens to the land happens to the water,” Bedrich said, adding that rain drags cigarette butts and microplastics into the Highland Lakes.

“[It’s a] huge community effort; it takes all of us,” Longenecker said.