Trash Free Waters Project

NCTCOG has partnered with the Houston-Galveston Area Council and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to establish a unified, coordinated approach to litter abatement and community engagement in the six river basins in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston regions.  


The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas represent over 50% of the state’s total population and are connected through these basins, and ultimately impact Galveston Bay and adjacent areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Trash removal from these watersheds requires an ongoing, significant effort that comes with great expense to local governments and many non-profit partners. Texas cities spend millions of dollars each year to remove litter, and 80% of escaped trash ends up in our waterways. This trash debris can affect aesthetics, tourism, business, and wildlife.

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Project Goals

Through this 3-year project, the project team seeks to: 

  1. Increase Adopt-A-Spot locations through Trash Free Texas and support a common, publicly available Trash Collection Database for the state of Texas.
  2. Provide outreach and engagement support for regional clean-up events through partnerships with local governments, recreational clubs (such as paddling groups and running clubs), and Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates. 
  3. Work with Texas-based restaurants to reduce the usage of single-use plastic.
  4. Share project successes with other councils of government and replicate this work across the state.

Adding Your Entity's Sites to the Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Map

Houston-Galveston Area Council's Trash Free Waters Project Webpage

The Trash Free Waters: North Central Texas Newsletter was launched by NCTCOG in March 2021. It highlights NCTCOG and its partners' efforts on the Trash Free Waters project as well as other projects, events, and partnerships that focus on reducing trash in North Central Texas waterways.

Current Newsletter - August 2022

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Past Newsletters:

North Texas Community Cleanup Challenge
The Spring 2022 Cleanup Challenge runs from March 1, 2022 through May 31, 2022. More information can be found at the North Texas Community Cleanup Challenge website here:

Plastic Reduction Workgroup 
Late summer 2022 - Details to come.
Read more about this workgroup in the informational flyer HERE.

NCTCOG Trash Free Texas Webinar: Making the Most of New Resources for Reducing Litter
Thursday, February 10, 2022 
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

This webinar included:
1.  A presentation from Keep Texas Beautiful about why and how to use the Texas Litter Database ( for entering and storing litter clean-up data.
2.  An overview of the two new resources available on the Trash Free Texas website here:
3.  Information on the new resources on the Trash Free Texas Partner Page here:
4.  An update on the Mayor's Challenge cleanup event to be held in the spring of 2022 in the North Central Texas region. More information can be found here:

Presentation Slides

Recreation and Litter Cleanup Advisory Group 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Presentation Slides 

Thursday, October 21, 2021
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Meeting Summary 

Presentation Slides

Thursday, September 9, 2021
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Meeting Summary 

Presentation Slides

North Texas Community Cleanup Challenge Informational Webinar

Thursday, August 5, 2021
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Recording of Webinar

Presentation Slides

Texas Litter Database Launches
July 8, 2021

Tracking litter data is an important component of understanding, managing, and preventing litter in Texas and its waterways. This was the purpose behind the development of the Texas Litter Database, which was created by Keep Texas Beautiful, the Houston Advanced Research Center, and Black Cat GIS, and funded by the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation. The Texas Litter Database organizes and stores the trash and marine debris data collected in Texas in a central location and can be accessed through any smart device or computer at Most importantly, the database can be used by everyone: litter cleanup volunteers, cleanup site coordinators, researchers, or any other user, to either input  trash collection data or view and download trash collection data. All litter cleanup volunteers and cleanup event organizers are encouraged to enter their data in the database. A link to the Texas Litter Database has been added to the bottom right-hand corner of the Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot map so that volunteers who have adopted sites from the Trash Free Texas website can easily access the database to enter their litter data. Click on the link below to access and explore the Texas Litter Database.

Texas Litter Database

Webinar: Wrangling Trash from Waterways – Texas Style
Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
10:00 am - 12:00 pm CST

Recording of Webinar

Presentation Slides

Trash Free Texas Webinar: Connecting Volunteers with Litter Cleanup Locations
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. ​

Recording of Webinar

Presentation Slides

Who is funding this project?

This project is funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico’s Trash Free Waters program. This program encourages collaborative solutions to reducing trash in our waterways, most of which originates on land.

How long will the project last? 
NCTCOG’s project began in late 2020 and will last for approximately three years.

What is Trash Free Texas?
The Trash Free Texas website and its online mapping tool facilitate litter cleanup activities throughout Texas by connecting volunteers with litter cleanup locations.

What information is needed to add adoptable litter cleanup locations to the Trash Free Texas?
To add your adoptable cleanup locations, you will need the following:

  • Location name,
  • Latitude and Longitude coordinates for each of your adopt-a-spot sites,
  • Adoption status of each location, such as available or adopted, and
  • ​Contact information for your cleanup locations.

How can I get involved?
You can get involved in three ways:

  • Sign-up to receive our emails about upcoming events, such as webinars/workshops, or cleanup events. 
  • Attend or promote the Trash Free Water’s project activities on social media or through word of mouth. 
  • Add your entity’s cleanup locations to the Trash Free Texas website so that volunteers can find locations in your area to clean up litter. For questions or assistance on how to add sites, contact Elena Berg at or 817-608-2363.

Where can I find shareable information on the Trash Free Waters Program?
You can find further information to share by downloading the Trifold Brochure or the Trash Free Waters Fact Sheet, both courtesy of the EPA. 

EPA Trifold Brochure
Trash Free Waters Fact Sheet