SFEI’s drone technology is helping track the trash across California.
Photo courtesy of Shelly Moore, SCCWRP
The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), in close partnership with the State Water Board, has recognized the importance of standard methods for trash monitoring and has funded this project. The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) and San Francisco Bay Estuary Institute (SFEI) have partnered up to test multiple trash monitoring methods with a goal of developing a library of methods with known levels of precision, accuracy, and cross-comparability of results, and linking these methods to specific management questions.
In 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) adopted an Amendment to the Ocean Waters of California (Ocean Plan) to Control Trash and Part 1 Trash Provision of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries (ISWEBE Plan). Together these are referred to as the Trash Amendments. The Trash Amendments prohibit discharge of trash larger than 5 millimeters to state waters from stormwater systems. The Ocean Protection Council (OPC) sent a letter to the Water Board supporting adoption of the Trash Amendments in 2015. The letter expressed the OPC’s interest in the use of scientific measures to track and verify program effectiveness. Currently there is no agreed-upon scientific method to monitor for trash in water and receiving stormwater channels. This makes assessing permittees’ compliance and general progress on reducing trash in state waters difficult. This project would provide the research needed to develop scientific measures to monitor trash.
Develop a library of standard trash monitoring methods through field testing, research, and outreach
Link management questions to viable trash monitoring methods
New Method Development
Explore novel methods for monitoring trash to measure their practicality and effectiveness
Recommend standards in trash monitoring methods and information management to facilitate statewide trash characterization
Related Projects, News, and Events:
Microplastic Pollution in San Francisco Bay and Adjacent Marine Sanctuaries (Project)
Monitoring San Francisco Bay for microplastics - photo by Plus M Productions
Plastic pollution is gaining global recognition as a threat to the resilience and productivity of ocean ecosystems. However, we are only just beginning to understand the scope and impacts of microplastic particles (less than 5 mm) on coastal and ocean resources, and the San Francisco Bay Area is no exception. A preliminary study of nine water sites in San Francisco Bay, published in 2016, showed greater levels of microplastics than the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay.