100,000 Garbage Bags Worth of Trash Washes into San Francisco Bay Each Year

Threat to Democracy/CC BY 2.0

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some 7.5 million inhabitants, with many paying an exorbitant price for real estate that offers even a slivered view of those namesake waters -- but it turns out that behind the Golden Gate lies much more than meets the eye. According to the results of the first comprehensive assessment of pollution in that famous bay, a mind-boggling 1.36 million gallons of trash are being dumbed in it every year. All that waste, say experts, is be enough to fill 100 thousand kitchen-sized garbage bags! Oh, and it's 100 percent avoidable.

The assessment conducted by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association found that most of the trash that's muddying the waters of the densely populated region found its way into the bay via storm drains, likely after being discarded a litter on city streets.

"Forty-nine percent is plastic -- candy wrappers, chip bags, lids and straws, the study found -- and 21 percent is paper, 8 percent plastic grocery bags, 7 percent plastic foam and the rest cans, bottles and other debris," reports the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

To arrive at their estimates of how much trash washes into San Francisco Bay, authorities installed debris capturing filters in major stormdrains in each city and municipality nearby, allowing them to determine with areas were the largest contributors. Unsurprisingly, the largest cities in the region, San Jose and Oakland, were found to add the most waste.

"This is 100 percent preventable. Trash doesn't happen by itself. If we can get people to modify their behavior, we'll make huge gains," Geoff Brosseau, of the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association, told the Mercury News.

According to California regulations, cities will be required to reduce the amount of trash carried down stormdrains by 40 percent by 2014. By 2022, law will require that 100 percent of runoff-carried garbage be kept from the state's waterways.

Tags: Pollution | San Francisco