A cheeky reusable container peeks out over the edge of a personal cooler on the banks of the San Marcos River

Reusable Drink Containers at the San Marcos River

Coming to play in our river parks and waters? We have a few new rules to keep in mind when planning your visit.

San Marcos wouldn't be the place we know and love without the crystal-clear waters that bubble to life in the middle of town, forming the San Marcos River. Swimming, tubing, paddling, and more - the San Marcos River is a hub of activity year-round and though we love seeing people enjoying our beautiful river, we'd also like to make sure we keep those sacred waters clean so we can all enjoy dipping our toes, or a paddle, for years to come. While the river will still be that alluring blue color, starting May 1, 2024, the San Marcos River is going green! Click HERE for full information about the Reuse at the River Ordinance.

A Quick Guide: 

  • Bring your drinks in reusable containers to help keep the river clean
  • If you must bring your drinks in disposable containers (like plastic water bottles, pouches, cans, etc.) stick to the Go Zones, or the areas of the park where there are picnic tables
  • Bringing a cooler into the water? There is a limit of one 30-quart cooler per person allowed in the water and along the water's edge.

What does that mean? 

We are so glad you asked! As of May 1, 2024, single-use drink containers are OUT and reusable drink containers are IN. Bring your favorite beverage in a reusable container (that's not glass) to stay hydrated along the river's edge or in water. Planning on enjoying the river from afar? You can sip on your bottled or canned beverage from a distance to your heart's content! 

What is a reusable drink container?

A reusable drink container is something that is built to last and made to be refilled! They are made of metal or thick plastic and have a lid that screws or unclasps. 

A family of reusable cups (equipped with their river gear) is ready for a fun day on the San Marcos RiverCan I still bring single-use drink containers to the parks?

Yes, you can, but please pay attention to designated "Go Zones" and "No Zones," so you're not accidentally bringing your disposables too close to the water. These zones will be marked with signage. A good rule of thumb is to keep your "throw-away containers" at picnic tables scattered throughout the parklands. Then be sure to dispose of those containers properly in the trash or recycling cans.

What are the Go Zones and No Zones?

Since we are trying to keep litter from ending up in the San Marcos River, reusable drink containers are the only drinks allowed in the river and along the banks - called No Zones for "no single-use." The Go Zones are farther away from the water and are where you can drink from disposable drink containers. Check out the handy map below to see where the no zones are before you go! And don't worry, there will be plenty of signage in the park so you can clearly see the zones. 

Go Zone/No Zone Map

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A cheeky reusable container peeks out over the edge of a personal cooler on the banks of the San Marcos RiverWhat about coolers? 

Feel free to bring your family-size coolers to the park for a day of swimming and soaking up the San Marcos sun. If you plan on bringing your cooler to the water's edge, or on the water while floating or paddling the river, there is a limit of one 30-quart cooler per person allowed. This is to help cut back on those accidental spills while you're enjoying yourself. And remember, no disposable drink containers in those coolers next to or in the river!

What about snacks? 

You are welcome to bring snacks for your outdoor adventure. Glass and styrofoam are not allowed in San Marcos' river or parkland, but other than that you can bring your snacks in their original disposable packaging or plastic zipper pouches. We recommend you keep those disposable containers away from the river (soggy snacks sound really gross to us) but they are allowed. And be sure to properly toss that throw-away packaging in a trashcan when done.

What other restrictions are there? 

In addition to existing park rules (no glass, styrofoam, alcohol, or charcoal grills) containers that can hold five fluid ounces or less will not be allowed anywhere in the parks or on the water. Beverages like juice pouches or boxes are typically six fluid ounces so those are fine to enjoy in the Go Zones.

A couple cheers their fun reusable containers on the banks of the San Marcos River.Thank You!

Thank you so much for helping us keep our river clean of trash! We know that sometimes making the right choice isn't always the most convenient choice, but by swapping out your single-use drinks for more sustainable options you are actively keeping San Marcos beautiful and creating a healthier environment for our local plants and wildlife.