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Local creeks filled with trash
September 22, 2010, 02:47 AM Daily Journal staff report

Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal San Mateo Creek at Ryder Park has been identified as one of the trashiest shoreline areas in the Bay Area. A volunteer effort will take place this weekend to clean the creek and several others in the county.

San Mateo County has 33 "hot spots” where toxic levels of plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast-food containers and old tires pollute creeks and shoreline areas, according to Save the Bay.

The nonprofit agency states in a report released yesterday that 225 shoreline and creek locations in the Bay Area are overrun with trash.

Save The Bay is asking residents to vote for one of seven hot spots the nonprofit will "adopt” with a series of volunteer cleanups throughout 2011, including Redwood Creek and Colma Creek in San Mateo County.

Redwood Creek flows through downtown Redwood City and accumulates trash from commercial and residential corridors, high-traffic zones and general littering from pedestrians, according to the nonprofit agency. This urban creek flows into the Bay at Bair Island, which is currently being restored to tidal marsh and is home to many sensitive plant and animal species.

Colma Creek flows through a variety of urban areas in South San Francisco and San Mateo County, including major industrial and commercial zones close to San Francisco International Airport, high-traffic areas and pedestrian corridors, according to Save the Bay.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a revised Municipal Regional Permit in October 2009 requiring certain cities, counties and government agencies to eliminate hundreds of trash hot spots around the Bay.

For the first time ever, cities and other permitees are mandated to reduce the amount of trash in their stormwater by 40 percent by 2014 and 70 percent by 2017, with the goal of completely preventing trash and litter from polluting the Bay by 2022.

"The staggering number of hot spots underscores the pervasive and growing problem of trash pollution in our waterways and the imperative for Bay Area cities to take the lead in solving this problem,” Felicia Madsen, Save The Bay’s chief strategy officer, said in a statement. "Now for the first time, cities are required to stop trash from polluting our great natural treasure.”   

To initiate that process, the water board required the permitees to identify a specific number of trash hot spots within their jurisdictions using several methods including data compiled during previous Coastal Cleanup Day events and their own trash assessment surveys.

Save the Bay is conducting a Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday.

Last year on Coastal Cleanup Day, more than 250,000 pounds of trash and recyclables were pulled from the Bay and its watershed, according to data collected by the over 22,000 volunteers at cleanup events around the Bay.

Save the Bay’s report indicates Santa Clara County has 74 trash hot spots; Alameda County has 69 trash hot spots; Contra Costa County has 79 trash hot spots; and San Mateo County has 31 trash hot spots.

Trash hot spot locations in San Mateo County include: Atherton Channel, Belmont Creek, O’Neill Slough, Bayshore Creek, Burlingame Shoreline, San Francisquito Creek, San Miguel Beach in Foster City, San Bruno Creek, San Mateo Creek, Pulgas Creek in San Carlos and the Bayfront canal in Redwood City, among a few others.

"The water board’s groundbreaking requirements for reducing trash flowing to the Bay are stringent, and we applaud the cities for taking the first steps to identify their hot spots,” Bruce Wolfe, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board’s executive officer, said in a prepared statement. "Now we must ensure that the cities — through their reporting and on-the-ground trash control measures — do in fact reach the mandated goals of reducing trash flowing to the Bay.”

Coastal Cleanup Day at Colma Creek in South San Francisco will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. To volunteer visit www.savesfbay.org/volunteer. To learn more about Save the Bay’s contest to adopt a trash hot spot visit www.savesfbay.org/baytrash.

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