SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The equivalent of 100,000 kitchen trash bags full of garbage flows into the San Francisco Bay from storm drains every year, according to a study released Thursday.
That figure from the first comprehensive look at how much trash chokes the Bay came as no surprise to environmentalists.
“In most of the Bay Area, everything on our streets and sidewalks washes into the storm drains and straight into the Bay,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
The study by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association found almost half of the trash was plastic: chip bags, drink lids and candy wrappers. Another 21 percent was paper products. Plastic grocery bags make up eight percent.
Lewis said plastic bags and Styrofoam take-out containers are two sources of pollution that are easy to regulate.
“These are items that we can actually do a lot to reduce by changing our behaviors and changing our city ordinances,” he said.
A state mandate requires local governments to cut the amount of trash that flows into the Bay by 40% from 2009 levels by 2014.
Two of the biggest cities, San Jose and Oakland, have done the most to curtail trash. Yet small cities such as Colma, Pittsburg and Richmond produce a surprisingly large amount of the trash, as documented in the report.
“If you live in San Francisco or San Jose, you’re doing more than many other communities. A lot of cities are now rushing to catch up,” Lewis said.
Meeting the state goal of zero trash emissions into the Bay will require an expensive investment in screens at storm drain inlets and trash capture equipment in tunnels.
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