Thursday July 24, 2014

The Bay Area-wide Trash Capture Demonstration Project, a recently-concluded four-year effort that included the City of Napa, has been called “an important step towards preserving and protecting our sensitive water bodies” by Public Works Director Jacques LaRochelle.

Using federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the project installed trash capture equipment in municipalities around the Bay. The City of Napa received $51,446 to obtain and install three large hydrodynamic separators at the City Corporation Yard and Materials Diversion Facility, along with 17 catch basin inserts that capture trash before it enters the storm drain system. Devices at the Corporation Yard were specifically designed to capture trash, sediment, debris and oil based pollutants and installed along drainage inlet areas. A similar approach was taken at the Materials Diversion Facility, where two large trash capture devices were installed at the sites recycling portion of the facility. Staff estimates that these devices capture trash from 13 acres.
Trash is a serious problem throughout California. When it rains, storm drain systems carry trash and litter directly to local creeks or San Francisco Bay. Once in the Bay, trash makes its way to the ocean and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where it endangers bird and marine life. Recent studies show that the vast amount of plastic in trash, which does not biodegrade, breaks into tiny particles that bond with persistent toxins such as PCBs. These toxins are being found in significant amounts in the tissues of marine organisms that ingest the plastic particles in seawater.

To reduce the amount of trash reaching water ways, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a regional storm water permit in 2009, requiring trash capture by municipalities over 100,000 population. Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board is developing trash amendments to its Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed, Bays, and Estuaries of California, which will require trash capture by all other communities in California, including the County of Napa and cities in the County.

The $5 million Bay Area-wide Trash Capture Demonstration Project provided a total of 4,003 devices to 64 municipalities around the Bay. It was organized and managed by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP), a program of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Grant funding was awarded to SFEP/ABAG by the State Water Resources Control Board, using funds first from the federal stimulus bill, and later from state bond funds for urban storm water and nonpoint source projects, which were approved by California voters in Propositions 50, 40, and 13.

The final project report is available for downloading at http://www.sfestuary.org/our-projects/water-quality-improvement/trashcapture/.