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.

Sign-up Here for Email Updates on Trash Free Waters Project

 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

Trash Free Waters: North Central Texas Newsletter

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.

Final Newsletter- September 2023

Past Newsletters:

Upcoming Events

Trash Free Texas, funded by an Environmental Protection Agency contract, ended on September 30, 2023. Despite this, we're dedicated to finding new funding to sustain our mission. While Adopt-A-Spot updates and partner form processing pause temporarily, the Trash Free Texas website and map will stay active, offering valuable resources. Stay tuned for updates as we transition and thank you for supporting our Texas waterways' cleanliness.

Past Events

Trash Free Texas Restaurant Program and Recreational Litter Cleanup Program Toolkit Piloting
The project team completed a pilot of the resources and strategies in the Trash Free Texas Restaurant Program draft toolkits, which can be found below. Ten entities participated in the pilot and were invited to share their feedback at the end of the project.

Toolkit for Restaurants
Toolkit for Communities
One-page Flyer on Trash Free Texas Restaurant Program
Recreational Litter Cleanup Toolkit 

North Texas Community Cleanup Challenge
The North Central Texas Council of Governments would like to extend a congratulations to the City of Mansfield as the 2023 winner of the third annual North Texas Community Cleanup Challenge and Mayors' Challenge! Thank you to all of our communities who participated. Please visit to learn more about the NTCCC and find out how to participate next year.

Trash Free Texas Webinar: Empower Your Volunteers and Reach New Audiences
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

This was NCTCOG's last webinar of its 3-year grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. This webinar included a brief overview of the resources developed for the Trash Free Texas website for both volunteers and communities. 

Presentation Slides
Webinar Recording

Presentation to Urban Riparian Symposium in San Marcos, Texas, on February 9, 2023
Presentation Slides

Single-Use Plastic Reduction Workgroup Meeting
Monday, November 7, 2022 
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Meeting Agenda
Read more about this workgroup in the informational flyer.

Presentation Slides
Video Recording

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 Trash Free Texas's Adopt-a-Spot volunteer program 
3.  Information on how to partner with Trash Free Texas
4.  An update on the Mayor's Challenge cleanup event to be held in the spring of 2022 in the North Central Texas region

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 26, 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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.  

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