Moore, S.; Hale, T.; Weisberg, S. B.; Flores, L.; Kauhanen, P. 2021. California Trash Monitoring Methods and Assessments Playbook. SFEI Contribution No. 1025. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, Calif.

As municipalities and water-quality regulatory agencies have implemented programs and policies to improve management of the trash loading to storm drain conveyances, there has been increased interest in using a common set of methods to quantify the effectiveness of management actions. To create a foundation for developing a consistent, standardized approach to trash monitoring statewide, the project team performed a method comparison analysis, based on two seasons of fieldwork. This analysis facilitated the assessment of the accuracy, repeatability, and efficiency of some already developed trash monitoring methodologies already in use, as well as help to investigate a new, innovative method (cf. Fielding Testing Report on trashmonitoring.org). Methods developed by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) for use in the San Francisco Bay Area were compared to methods developed by the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition (SMC) for use in coastal southern California. One of the chief goals of these comparisons was to understand the similarities and differences between the already existing methods for detecting, quantifying, and characterizing trash in selected environments. Readers will find that the data bear out remarkable levels of accuracy and precision with quantitative metrics that help to align methods and management concerns. Furthermore, the degree of correlation among tested methods were especially high, offering greater opportunities for inter-method comparisons.


The findings of this project are intended for use by public agencies, non-profit organizations, private consultants, and all of their various partners in informing a statewide effort to adopt rigorous, standardized monitoring methods to support the State Water Board’s Trash Amendments. Over the next couple of decades, such public mandates will require all water bodies in California to achieve water quality objectives for trash.

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