Pollution in our oceans is a serious and ongoing concern. Not only is trash on our beaches ugly and dangerous, it can also make you sick. Los Angeles County’s massive storm drain systems and few remaining rivers and creeks carry an average of 30 billion gallons of storm water and urban runoff annually. Even in dry weather, 10 million to 25 million gallons of water flow through storm drains into the ocean every day -- and with it a lot of bacteria, trash and other pollution.
The problem is that more than water goes down the storm drain. Runoff flows over rooftops, parking lots, freeways, construction sites, and other impervious urban surfaces. Along the way it picks up plastic bags, bacteria and other contaminants. The runoff flows directly into the ocean through open channels and underground pipes, completely untreated and unfiltered.
Plastic debris, Styrofoam, pet waste, fertilizers, herbicides, metals and toxins all contribute to polluted runoff. In car-centric Los Angeles, automobile-related contaminants like used motor oil, leaking antifreeze, and worn-down tires and brake pads are a major source of pollution.
This contamination causes serious problems. Plastic trash can entangle or be eaten by marine animals, and high bacteria levels can make swimmers and surfers sick.
You Can Help
So what do we do? There are a lot of things we each can do to help:
Tell your friends and their kids that trash on the streets go straight to the ocean when it rains.
Don’t create urban runoff! Don’t overwater or hose off your sidewalk or driveway. And don’t wash your car in the driveway—take it to a carwash.
Avoid using harsh chemicals in your house or on your garden, where they can wash into the stormdrain system.
Report clogged storm drains or illegal dumping to your public works department.
You can also make a difference by getting more involved in Heal the Bay programs: