A Multi-Tiered Strategy to Address Trash in the City of San Diego Streams
The City of San Diego is similar to many municipalities across the State, in that trash is an important ecological and financial challenge for agencies to manage. Understanding that the amendment to the Trash Control Plan would be adopted, the City started reviewing the policy requirements and evaluating its current resources to develop a data-driven cost-effective strategy for managing trash.
As the second largest City in California, the City of San Diego has implemented a number of efforts to remove trash from the environment. The trash management programs include traditional methods such as street sweeping and catch basin maintenance programs, but also includes standing agreements between various City departments to monitor for and remove abandoned trash, maintain an active public education and outreach program, and provide support for citizen based creek clean up events.
Recently, the City initiated a re-evaluation of the trash management priorities as part of ongoing watershed management planning programs in coordination with special studies. The special study goals were to identify regional hotspots and evaluate the sources contributing to the City’s most challenging watershed. This presentation focuses on the trash special studies as an overall project conducted in support of the watershed planning efforts.
The process for identifying trash reduction priorities focuses on a comprehensive evaluation of priority land uses, analysis of monitoring datasets, and conducting two types of watershed surveys. In phase one of the project, a GIS based analysis of priority land uses and monitoring data was performed to identify potential high trash generating areas. In phase two, an in-depth analysis of monitoring data was performed to identify the landscape attributes influencing trash generation and assess whether trash levels were decreasing over time. In phase three of the project, two watershed studies were conducted to assess the receiving water conditions and identify sources of trash.
Each of the special studies places a strong emphasis on GIS information for the project analyses and for developing the watershed survey design. In addition, we developed a GIS based smart-phone application for data collection that could be used by City program staff during future assessments.
The special studies are intended to evaluate trash reduction strategies, but also to take advantage of existing resources between programs and between departments to improve trash reduction efforts. In addition to the focused implementation of BMPs around priority land uses, the monitoring projects provide an opportunity to develop a focused public education program and potentially new ordinances around the most abundant types of trash (single use plastic bags, styrofoam, etc.). The watershed condition surveys provided valuable insight into sources which can be addressed through targeted clean up events, community outreach programs, inspections, and code enforcement programs.
Together these special studies are expected to help the City to not only start complying with the new Trash Amendment but also solve some of the standing issues in the most challenging watersheds.
The goal of this presentation is to have attendees take away a better understanding of the inter-connectivity between watershed planning, monitoring, and informing the management process as the new trash policy becomes an increasingly more important aspect of stormwater programs.