Removing a Ton of Trash… Literally

Try to imagine a ton of trash. Now imagine that trash strewn across just a half-mile section of a creek that flows to San Francisco Bay. Not a pretty sight, but that’s what 66 volunteers encountered on National River Cleanup Day at Coyote Creek in San Jose. Save The Bay, along with local community group  Friends of Watson Park collected roughly 2,350 pounds of trash from the banks of the creek, which flows alongside Watson Park.

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It was heart breaking to see the amount of trash polluting this section of Coyote Creek. Many of our local creeks flow directly into the Bay untreated, which means trash and other pollutants also flow into the Bay and its surrounding wetlands, impacting wildlife and presenting a public health threat to trail users.  Trash is a quality of life and environmental issue that has become so serious around the Bay that the Regional Water Quality Control Board – an agency that enforces water pollution laws in our region – is requiring cities to eliminate trash from their storm drains, creeks, and Bay shoreline areas by 2022. Not only that, cities have to show that they’ve made some progress and reduced trash by 40% by July of this year. That means the City of San Jose must work quickly to find innovative solutions to the trash problem we witnessed on Saturday morning. It’s not an easy task, but it’s an important one.

Events like National River Cleanup Day provide an opportunity to highlight the trash problem in our creeks and the places most in need of attention. Removing the trash is important, but the ultimate solution is preventing it from ending up there in the first place. That’s why Save The Bay has supported cities in banning plastic bags and Styrofoam, and why we are now working to keep cigarette butts out of the Bay. Check out our Pollution Prevention page to learn more about what we’re doing to keep pollution out of the Bay: