Trash Talk: Piedmont Storm Drains vs. SF Bay

Sometimes it's a good thing to be in the bottom 10

When it comes to trash that ends up in San Francisco Bay – candy wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts – Piedmont scores well in terms of total volume, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Piedmont ranks in the bottom 10 (No. 65 out of 73 communities) in the volume of litter that reaches the bay via storm drains and creeks, with an estimated 2,362 gallons a year, the article says.

Per capita, though, Piedmont doesn't fare as well. Annually, the city sends an estimated 220 gallons of junk per 1,000 residents into the bay, according to Mercury News figures. That places it squarely in the middle of the pack.

Alameda, one of the 10 best-performing cities on a per capita basis, contributes only 119 gallons per 1,000 people. Albany made the best-performing bottom 10 in both categories, total volume and per capita.

The figures are based on a study by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association. The state has ordered Bay Area cities and counties to reduce the the amount of trash reaching the bay by 40 percent within the next two years.

Read the complete article here.


Dixie Jordan February 24, 2012 at 03:35 AM
According to the Mercury News story, most of it is through storm drains after rains, and about half is just litter - candy wrappers, potato chip bags, etc. Some cities have installed screens or "strainers" on storm drains, increased street sweeping and done volunteer clean-ups. The story has a link to the original study.
Mallory Hill February 24, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Piedmont is on steep hillsides in many places and gets higher peak rainfall amounts than the towns on the flats...This ends up sweeping more debris into the drains
Margaret Ovenden February 24, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I agree that our geography makes for more runoff action. But what can we do to stop things from becoming litter in the first place? For example, it seems there is usually a lot of post-lunchtime litter in Piedmont Park, and I understand city crews have to spend a lot of time dealing with that (taking time away from other things they could be doing).
Jim McCrea February 26, 2012 at 09:57 PM
I never go to Piedmont Park. Are there sufficient trash cans available? Does the school try to educate students who might be eating there about "good citizenship" with respect to THEIR environment? Could interested parents/citizens monitor the park during lunchtime and attempt to forestall casual littering?
Margaret Ovenden February 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM
First off, I'm not sure if Piedmont Park is the main source of our storm drain litter ... I was hoping someone would know for sure what our main source is. But I do know that lunchtime litter is a difficult issue there. I believe there are sufficient trash cans, as the Park Commission and the Planning Dept did a study and installed new receptacles there just a couple years ago. And I know that the schools (at least the ones I'm familiar with, the elementaries and the middle school) have made a lot of efforts since the start of Piedmont's new waste contract with Richmond Sanitary to educate students about proper ways to sort waste (recycling, compost, landfill). The hope is that by the time students get up to the high school, these good environmental habits (as well as an appreciation of not littering) will be ingrained in them. Along similar lines, at the Harvest Festval for the last 3 years there have been volunteers at the waste bins, helping people sort their waste properly. This has lead to a big increase in the amount of that event's waste being diverted from the landfill (and maybe to less littering, but that isn't measured). So, yes, maybe some volunteers in the park to help monitor for littering is a good idea. I think also there needs to be more education across the community about how litter ends up in the Bay and the ocean. Plus encouragement for people to not purchase products which generate so much litter in the first place (less plastic wrappers, etc.)


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