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Trash Monitoring Projects

In 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) adopted an amendment to its water quality control plans for both inland waters and ocean waters. Collectively, these are referred to as the Trash Amendments. The Trash Amendments prohibit the discharge of trash larger than 5 mm into stormwater systems. The Ocean Protection Council supported the adoption of the Trash Amendments and values 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. This makes assessing  progress on reducing trash in state waters difficult. To that end, the Ocean Protection Council is working with the Water Board on a series of projects to develop, validate, and educate interested organizations about scientific trash monitoring methodologies. Information about the projects addressing this topic can be found below.

Monitoring Considerations for the Trash Amendments

The Ocean Protection Council funded Ocean Science Trust to develop Monitoring Considerations for the Trash Amendments, a report synthesizing information from past research on trash monitoring to provide monitoring considerations and guidance for permit writers and permittees when developing trash monitoring programs.

Workshop Addressing Trash Monitoring Science Needs

On April 18-19, 2017, the California Ocean Protection Council and the State Water Resources Control Board hosted a workshop to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the key and unresolved issues surrounding trash monitoring
  • Develop a list of the main management questions that would guide trash monitoring and examples of the scientific monitoring questions that would provide the parameters to select monitoring methodologies and protocols.
  • Provide recommendations and input to the trash monitoring methods field testing, validation, and standardization project (described in the section below).

An agenda, workshop summary and expert presentations from the workshop are available below. The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project will hold an additional workshop to narrow down the specific methods that are suitable for field testing and validation in the fall of 2017.

Trash Monitoring Methods Field Testing, Validation, and Standardization Project

On April 26, 2017, the Ocean Protection Council approved funding for Research and Development of Scientific and Standardized Trash Monitoring Methods to Effectively Implement the Trash Amendments. This three-year project aims develop, validate, and field test scientific trash monitoring methods in water and stormwater channels. The objectives of the project are to:

  • Field test approximately four methods to monitor for trash in receiving waters.
  • Convene a technical advisory committee to provide advice and input throughout the project on methods to test, improvements to existing methods, and other areas of interest.
  • Communicate with stakeholders about the project, the methods development and testing, and provide opportunity for Water Board permittees to learn how to effectively monitor they’re receiving waters.

This effort will include a stakeholder meeting in the fall of 2017 to formalize the conceptual modeling work started at the April 2017 workshop. If you are interested in being added to the email list for updates about this project, please contact Holly Wyer at Holly.Wyer@resources.ca.gov.

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