A judge in Comal County today threw out the controversial New Braunfels can ban, saying the restrictions on carrying non returnable bottles and cans onto the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers is ‘illegal and unenforceable,’ 1200 WOAI news reports.
The lawsuit challenging the ‘can ban,’ which was passed by the City Council in 2011 and took effect with the summer tubing season of 2012, was challenged by a group of businesses that cater to tourists in New Braunfels.
Judge Don Burgess ruled that rivers are the property of the state, and state officials, not cities, alone have the right to dictate what is allowed on rivers. A similar argument ended an attempt by New Braunfels to restrict alcohol on the rivers in the last decade.
Shane Wolff, owner of Rockin R River Rides, the largest outfitter in Comal County, says he’s pleased with the ruling.
“We’re just glad that common sense has prevailed,” he said. “It’s a shame though, the money, taxpayers money, had to be spent in the way that it did.”
He says the outfitters will now start working with the city to try to come up with a compromise. He says nobody wants the rivers in New Braunfels clean more than the people who make their living on them.
“We live here, breathe here, sleep here, and do everything else here,” he said. “We want to work together. There is no sense in small towns fighting internally.”
Wolff says the can ban was brutal to his business and to other businesses that cater to tourists in New Braunfels.
“We took about a 50% hit from 2011 to 2012, with the same water conditions,” he said.
Wolff said Comal County rivers are ‘back in play’ after two down years where water recreation enthusiasts went elsewhere.
The city says it’s goal was not to stop water recreation, but simply to make sure that discarded cans and bottles didn’t litter the rivers and detract from the beauty that makes them attractive to tubers in the first place.