OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The California rainfall has brought much relief, clearing out the smoky skies and providing much-needed moisture to the dry state.

But the rain has also sent tons of trash into local Bay Area waterways, such as Lake Merritt.

Underneath the sparkly lights that surround the lake in the nighttime, the lake reflects back like an urban paradise. But under the harsh light of the sun, it’s far more apparent that the Oakland landmark is filled with an abundance of trash.

Della Mundy, a volunteer with the Lake Merritt Institute, said that the organization spends time and resources to clean up the mess.

“We gather mid-morning and work about three hours frantically,” said Mundy.

Earlier this week, after the first soaking rainstorm in California in over 200 days, volunteers found 250 hypodermic needles inside the lake.

A photo showing all of the used needles found within Lake Merritt. (Courtesy of Veronica Boutelle)

Mundy also said that volunteers often find waste–both human and animal–but the large amount of needles shocked her.

“I’ve only found as many as maybe 6 myself at one go-around on that same beach,” said Mundy.

RELATED: Homeless In Lake Merritt Encampments Resist Plans For Relocation

The Lake Merritt Institute picks up between 1,000 and 5,000 pounds of trash from the water per month using large nets.

The loud geese and excessive trash around the lake are one thing, but community members and regular lake-goers are appalled by the amount of used needles.

“That’s a lot. That’s dangerous. That’s crazy,” said one woman taking a late night stroll.

The Lake Merritt Institute typically meets on Tuesday and Saturday mornings to clean up the lake.


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