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How Orange County Coastkeeper Works with Local Industries

Through cooperation and collaboration, Coastkeeper helps local businesses reduce pollution and comply with state clean water laws. One example of this collaboration is Coastkeeper’s work with Orange County trash haulers.

Trash haulers are committed to providing reliable and responsible recycling and waste disposal services to homes, communities, and businesses. However, facilities in Orange County were unaware of the impacts their “business as usual” protocol had on the community.

Where All the Trash Goes Matters

Everyone knows that when you put your garbage out on the curb, a truck comes by and takes it away. But, what a lot of people don’t consider is where all this trash goes and what happens to it. Once the trucks collect our trash, it is then taken to a material recovery facility where it is sorted through so that the least amount of trash ends up in the landfills.

Out of Site, Out of Mind Doesn’t Mean it is Not Harmful

These facilities are huge repositories for trash and have very high levels of metals and bacteria. As a result, when it rained in Orange County, trash and bacteria were discharged into the Santa Ana River and flowed into important waters, including the Pacific Ocean. The bacteria then polluted the waters and became health hazards for swimmers and surfers, often resulting in ear infections.

Best Management Practices that Benefit Everyone

Orange County Coastkeeper used regulatory and legal frameworks to bring this issue to the attention of trash haulers and worked with them to create best management practices that benefit both the community and company.

To address the pollution and make the facility more environmentally efficient, Coastkeeper worked with the trash hauling facility to implement catch basins that are designed and constructed to capture 85 percent of all water from storms.

The basins allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground, where it is naturally filtered and then recharges our groundwater. The stormwater that isn’t captured by the basins is treated by the natural treatment best management practices and discharged as clean water.

The best management practices also operate to improve appearance, attract species, and in this instance, employees. Workers moved their lunch area from inside to next to the new basin site because it became a serene and lovely place to enjoy their lunch.

Coastkeeper didn’t stop there. They saw other opportunities for BMPs that trash haulers can implement such as:

  • Moving improperly stored toxic liquids to be an appropriate containment location,
  • Covering fuel pump islands to prevent rainwater from mixing with the oil and chemicals,
  • Installing oil-catching devices on trucks to prevent oil spills, and
  • Preventing illegally discharged waste from entering the sewer systems – an illegal practice under the Clean Water Act

These best management practices have set a great example for the trash hauler industry. We are seeing many facilities following in their footsteps by implementing similar practices.

If you see water pollution happening in your neighborhood, please contact Orange County Coastkeeper or your local water agency. Coastkeeper believes in taking necessary steps to ensuring clean water for our communities and businesses.