California Steps Up Water Trash Control Efforts with New EPA Approved Policy
The inland, coastal and ocean waters in California have become a dumping ground for trash and debris. This poses a serious threat to the environment, fish and wildlife, and it inhibits the ability for the public to enjoy our beaches and waterways. The presence of trash in waters threatens the habitat of many aquatic species, jeopardizes human health and safety and interrupts recreational, commercial and navigational activities.
The good news is that the State of California has taken aggressive steps towards keeping millions of pounds of trash each year out of our waters. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under its federal Clean Water Act authority, has approved the state’s new water quality standards, which will help prevent harmful trash from making it from land to water and adding to our serious marine debris problem. This Trash Control Policy will offer a phased approach to eliminate trash in California’s waters by the end of 2026. This initiative will also be instrumental in decreasing the amount of marine debris in the Pacific Ocean.
As much as 80% of the trash that ends up as marine debris is generated on land, and a significant amount of this debris is transported to waterways via storm drains. The new Trash Policy prohibits the discharge of trash to state waters through storm drain systems. It will utilize trash capturing devices in those areas that generate large amounts of garbage to ensure trash is removed prior to entering our storm water system. This will require California’s municipalities and other storm water permit holders to comply by installing full trash capture systems or by using equivalent devices. Coupled with programs such as increased street sweeping and education outreach, these programs will result in cleaner beaches and a healthier marine life.
Already reaping the benefits of the trash capture approach are the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Regions. The Los Angeles region has bodies of water, including the L.A. River that will approach the zero trash standard this year. The San Francisco Bay has already passed its 40 percent reduction milestone, and the updated storm water permit has 2022 as the target date for zero trash in the region.
Ingenium, in its ongoing commitment and devotion to sustainability, is in support of these state and federal initiatives. We applaud these new water quality initiatives as an important step in reaching the goals that we are all working towards.