Community Members Take Action Against Float Fest’s Alleged River Abuse

By Clayton Kelley
Assistant News Director

UPDATED: 7/29/2016

With a record breaking attendance averaging over ten thousand people, Float Fest is becoming a trademark music festival for the city of San Marcos, causing some residents to become skeptical of the trash that is being left behind.

The San Marcos River
Photo by Conor Yarbrough

Members of groups such as the Eyes of the San Marcos River are expressing their grievances towards this issue on social media, including the festival’s Facebook page. Embracing hashtags such as “leave no trace,” the organization is fronting awareness to the amount of waste being left behind. Melissa Derrick, city council member place 4, said she understands the need for environmental activist after seeing the large amount of trash that winds up in the banks of the river and hearing countless complaints from nearby landowners.

“Float Fest is a thorn in the side of all of those who love the San Marcos River,” Derrick said. “I’ve had contact with attendees who claimed that they were not provided mesh bags to secure their beer cans and jello shots in the lake.”

Derrick said social media videos indicated there were not very many trash receptacles on sight or volunteers willing to pick up. 

Founder of Float Fest, Marcus Federman, said the group’s intentions are good, but completely ill informed. 

“There’s six figures worth of money that’s going into protecting the river and marketing the river and keeping it clean,” Federman said. “We actually spend probably close to $15,000 paying staff over two days to go out there and clean the river multiple times. We pay probably about $30,000 in security just on the river.”

Artist are welcome to promote river cleanup at the festival itself, but he feels like some of the uproar on social media is getting too much, Federman said.

“That’s just not our spirit, we are not a hostile spirit,” Federman said.

He said Float Fest is a very open organization, that is receptive to feedback for the most part. 

The San Marcos River
Photo by Conor Yarbrough

“They (Eyes of the San Marcos River) have never wanted to try to solve the problem, they just want to keep perpetuating the myth that Float Fest is the problem,” Federman said. “My organizations spends more than anybody in the history of that river has ever spent on cleanup.”

Derrick said she believes festival’s of this magnitude should steer clear from any rivers and she is currently in the process of enacting change.

“Right now the solution that I see is a tri-county effort to work towards denial of the large gathering permit for this festival,” said Derrick. “I’ve been in contact with commissioners of Hays County and have found them to be interested in taking action and in the coming weeks, I intend to reach out to commissioners from all three counties (the river runs through) in an attempt to protect our river from this type of abuse each year.”

Federman said the San Marcos River has higher EPA standards than drinking water, making it cleaner than most other rivers in the nation. Both opponents and organizers of Float Fest advocate maintaining responsibility towards the river.

Disclosure: KTSW is a Float Fest sponsor

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