Trash (i.e., litter, floatables, gross pollutants, or solid waste) is a serious problem for watersheds where it presents an aesthetic nuisance, and a serious threat to aquatic life in creeks, the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Data suggest that plastic trash in particular persists for hundreds of years in the environment and can pose a threat to wildlife through ingestion, entrapment, as well as harboring chemicals potentially harmful to the aquatic environment.
Types of trash commonly observed in urban watersheds and water bodies include food and beverage containers (e.g., plastic bags and bottles) and packaging, cigarette butts, food waste, construction and landscaping materials, furniture, electronics, tires, and hazardous materials (e.g., paint and batteries).
In response to concerns about trash impacts on water bodies in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board included trash reduction requirements in the Municipal Regional Stormwater NPDES Permit (MRP) for all Permittees. Provision C.10 of the MRP mandates all Bay Area cities to reduce litter from their storm systems by 40 percent by 2014, 70 percent by 2017, and has an ultimate goal of “no adverse impacts” to water bodies by 2022. These are aggressive but important and valuable goals for the City to meet.
Listed below are some of the ways the City is working to meet the trash reduction goals:
Source Control: the City adopted an ordinance in 2008 to ban polystyrene foam food service ware from all food vendors, City Facilities, City franchises, and contractors doing business within City limits. This type of material does not degrade but instead breaks easily into tiny pieces, making it difficult to clean up. Small pieces of polystyrene foam are often mistaken as food by fish and wildlife, and are harmful to their health.
Also, single-use plastic bags are a significant component of the litter found in storm drains and water bodies throughout Alameda County. To address this issue, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority adopted a single-use bag ban for grocery stores and other entities that meet certain criteria. A copy of the Ordinance is available on the Alameda County Waste Management Authority’s.
Outreach and Education: The City of Albany is a member of Alameda County Clean Water Program (ACCWP). Through participation in the ACCWP, the City assists with and benefits from a variety of education programs implemented in the K-12 schools. To address the higher litter rates typically seen around schools, ACCWP participates in the Be the Street campaign. Be the Street is a Bay Area wide outreach effort that takes a Community Based Social Marketing approach to encourage youth to keep their community clean.
Street Sweeping: Street sweeping allows for the collection and removal of litter, leaves, and other visible debris that gathers in gutters. Main arterial streets in the City are swept weekly and residential streets are swept monthly. For more information about the City’s street sweeping, see Street Sweeping.
Full Trash Capture Devices: These devices are installed in storm drain inlets to prevent litter from entering a storm drain pipe and then being conveyed to the local creek or the San Francisco Bay. In 2013, the City installed 17 full trash capture devices along Solano Ave, Cleveland Ave and the Eastshore Highway. The City plans to install up to 7 additional full trash capture devices in storm drain inlets near Cerrito Creek.
Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors: These units use energy from the sun to power trash compaction, thereby minimizing the potential of overflowing trash cans. In addition, the Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors prevent the little critters from snacking on the garbage and making an unsanitary mess. The City installed these devices along Solano Ave, San Pablo Ave and at Memorial Park. The City has requested funding for additional Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors and hopes to install more units throughout the Cty.
You can help reduce the amount of litter entering our local creeks and waterways.
Below are a few simple suggestions on how you can contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment:
• Minimize the amount of waste you generate. Remember the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
• Properly dispose of your trash so that the wind does not carry it to the storm drain system, where it is conveyed to local waterways.
• Help keep the community clean by picking up trash, even if it’s not yours.
• Keep storm drain inlets around your property clear of trash, vegetation/leaves, sediment, and other debris. If a drainage inlet is clogged please call the Public Works Department at 1 + (510) 524-9543 to report it.
• Participate in local trash cleanup events in your community. For more information about volunteer opportunities in the City of Albany, please visit Albany Volunteer Corps.