Photo credit: SCVURPPP
The Coastal Watershed Council works with the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department to help eliminate trash entering the lower San Lorenzo River. CWC works with neighbors along the lower San Lorenzo River and with youth through CWC’s Watershed Rangers program to inspire action for cleaner water. Over the past couple of years, CWC has partnered with the City and river neighbors to lead public education campaigns, teach stormwater education in the K-8th grade classrooms, install storm drain murals and co-host neighborhood cleanups.
And there’s been some great progress to date! In 2021, 78% of the City of Santa Cruz is categorized as a “low” level of trash and litter, compared to 68% of the city in 2018. This data is gathered through the Department of Public Works’ annual trash assessments. Using a tool developed by Santa Cruz-based environmental tech firm 2NDNATURE, city streets, gutters and sidewalks are visually inspected and then ranked as “low”, “moderate”, “high” or “very high” in the amount of trash and litter observed.
We all have a part to play in keeping our streets and storm drains clean and clear so that we can reach the ultimate goal of 100% “low” trash levels in the City of Santa Cruz. Here are some ideas for actions you can take on your own or with your family and friends:
- Try out your own trash assessment on your street to observe where you see hot spots of litter.
- Learn about common sources of nonpoint source pollution that impact local waterways. Use the Monterey Bay Begins on Your Street guide to learn where you might find these common sources of pollution close to home.
- Check out Home Maintenance and Repair Pollution Prevention Tips from the City of Santa Cruz.
- Explore the storm drain system in your neighborhood using this GIS Map from the County of Santa Cruz. In the GIS map click “Select Overlay” and then click the “Storm Drains” icon. This will then display the City of Santa Cruz stormdrains on the map as “red circles”. Can you find which body of water your nearest storm drain empties to?
- Teach your kids about stormwater pollution and how it impacts the San Lorenzo River! Check out these videos from CWC’s Watershed Rangers environmental education program that are great for elementary school students!
- Stormwater Demonstration Video (YouTube 7:54) featuring a hands-on stormwater activity you can re-create at home!
- Exploring and Drawing Storm Drains (YouTube 5:23) featuring an activity to explore and draw a storm drain in your neighborhood!
- Check out CWC’s pollution prevention activity guide and watch the associated video guide for Neighborhood Pollution Prevention (YouTube 11:18).
And remember, pollution prevention can be easy–most of the time it only takes making small changes in the way you do things around the house and in your yard!