It’s official: The local water board says the SF Bay is trashed, according to the SF Chronicle:
Tons of cigarette butts, diapers, crushed Styrofoam and plastic bottles and bags convinced the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to vote unanimously to designate the edges of the central bay and the south bay, along with 24 rivers and creeks, as places in need of trash controls.
It used to be that just Lake Merritt was deemed “impaired” by the volumes of trash lining the shores, spoiling marine habitats and endangering wildlife. Not any more. Now dozens of Bay tributaries have received the same dubious distinction under the Federal Clean Water Act.
The designation is the first step in putting cities and counties on notice that the EPA could impose fines if they don’t clean up their act. But it could also provide funds to help them, and board members are hoping that $$ from the federal stimulus package will pay for structures beneath roads that capture trash in storm water.
Environmental groups say the vote is a good first step in eliminating plastic bags and street trash from falling into the bay. They also want stormwater permits issued that will require “measurable, enforceable reductions in trash:”
“Citizens are shocked when they realize how much trash is in the bay,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, the nonprofit that has been spearheading an anti-trash campaign over the past two years.
The list of recommended cleanup sites includes some that Sherwood has worked with including Strawberry Creek in Berkeley and Colma Creek in San Mateo County, where we helped write a “GreenStreets Design Guidebook” that demonstrates appropriate stormwater filtration and mitigation strategies to keep our waterways clean.
With the EPA poised to mandate that cities regulate trash or face heavy fines, now would be a good time to start implementing these programs.
While it’s great that volunteers picked up 125 tons of trash – including 15,000 plastic bags – from SF Bay on last year’s Coastal Cleanup Day, it’s pathetic that we let that amount of garbage get anywhere near our vital sources of water.
Shouldn’t it be government’s job to help keep all that trash out of our waterways in the first place?
Hopefully soon, it will be.