Session Chair: Chris Sommers, EOA, Inc

This session will provide guidance to individuals and the international community from municipalities, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations, and researchers in California (USA) based on their 15+ year journey to implement management actions focused on significantly reducing on-land sources of trash/litter and monitoring improvements in trash-impacted waterways.

Since the late 1990’s, the State of California has recognized that trash/litter is significantly impacting recreational uses and wildlife habitat in streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries and the Pacific Ocean. Numerous waterways throughout the State are now considered water quality “impaired” via the Federal Clean Water Act due to the amount of trash present in them. These impairment determinations have spawned numerous regulatory and management actions throughout the State that are designed to significantly reduce the amount of trash items reaching waterways. These include regulatory mandates on cities, counties and other public agencies and industries to reduce the impacts that trash originating from on-land sources is having on fisheries, wildlife and recreational uses. Municipalities in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay regions have been the leaders in developing and implementing new technologies and controls to prevent the on-land generation of trash, intercept it before it reaches waterways, and cleanup trash once it reaches these important natural resources. To-date, hundreds-of-millions of dollars have been spent by California municipalities on reducing the impacts of trash on waterways, and millions more will be spent over the next decade to combat this pervasive pollutant. Additional efforts to further the development of trash monitoring and assessment methods are also currently underway in attempts to measure the effectiveness of management actions and the progress being made towards achieving trash reduction goals.

This session will assemble key players throughout California that that are pioneers in developing trash reduction regulations, adopting source control actions such as plastic bag and expanded polystyrene bans, developing innovative technologies to intercept trash, implementing novel litter reduction strategies, and measuring progress over time.  The session will include presentations from water quality regulators, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and researchers in California on their experiences and lessons learned over the last 15-plus years. The session will conclude with a facilitated panel discussion, and question and answer session. The overall goal of the session will be to share the “California Experience” with attendees, on the sources of on-land trash, the successful and not so successful management actions, and practical methods used to monitor improvements.




Control of Trash Entering Waterways in California

presenting: Jonathan Bishop (California State Water Board, United States); authors: Jonathan Bishop (California State Water Board), Gayleen Perreira

The presence of trash in surface waters, specifically coastal and marine waters, is a prevalent issue in California. The State Water Board has listed 73 water bodies as impaired due to the presence of large amounts of trash. Trash discarded on land is frequently transported through storm drains to waterways and the ocean.

The State Water Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards (collectively The Water Boards) have attempted to control trash through permits that limit the amount of trash and other pollutants allowed to discharge to water bodies. The Los Angeles Regional Water Board led the way by with the adoption of ten trash and debris Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, in the Los Angeles River Watershed, and subsequently including trash discharge limitations in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase I municipal storm water permit. NPDES permits are permits authorized by the federal Clean Water Act but are adopted and administered by the Water Boards. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board followed this lead by adding trash discharge limitations into their NPDES Phase I municipal storm water permit.

The above approaches, although highly effective regionally, were not being carried out consistently throughout the state and ongoing and worsening trash problems continue to exist across the state. On April 7, 2015 the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted amendments to the Water Quality Control Plans for the Ocean Waters of California (Ocean Plan) and the Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California (ISWEBE Plan) to control trash. These trash amendments apply statewide to all most of the populated portions of the state that are regulated by NPDES permits. The Trash Amendments provide the necessary consistency in governing trash control statewide.


Lessons Learned from Implementing Trash Management and Monitoring Programs in the SF Bay Area

presenting: Chris Sommers (EOA Inc, United States); authors: Chris Sommers (EOA, Inc)