The Bay Area just had its first major rain of the winter, and most of us are probably thinking about keeping safe on wet roads or buying a new umbrella. But there’s something else that happens when late October comes around – all the litter that’s been languishing in gutters gets washed through the storm drains and into the bay.
The storm drains on your street link you to the Bay ecosystem, even if you live miles from the Bay. Designed to collect rain water and keep streets from flooding, storm drains are different from the sewer, even though we sometimes call them by the same name. The sewer transports wastewater from inside your home (like the sink and toilet) to a treatment plant for cleaning. But a storm drain channels rainwater directly into the Bay without removing any of the litter or pollution that might be along for the ride. That’s why most storms drains around here are stenciled with “No Dumping – Drains to Bay.”
Today, Pioneer High School sophomores came out for a canoeing expedition along the sloughs of SF Bay. While they were exploring, the students collected a huge amount of trash!
Over the past few months, most canoe trips collected little to no trash. But these students were the first group to go canoeing here at MSI since the rain started earlier this week. They saw firsthand how rain can flush litter from neighborhood streets down into the bay, where it can hurt the plants and animals that call this habitat home.
Sophomore Claire Bachmeier said that allowing litter to reach the bay would be “like if someone came and dumped trash in your house, because animals live there.”