Leftovers from weekend parties in Isla Vista are ending up in local waters – causing adverse effects on the animals that call these beaches their home.
Robert Almy, manager of the Santa Barbara County Water Resources Planning and Project Clean Water, recently visited a UCSB Surfrider Foundation meeting to discuss the impact of I.V.’s trash on the surrounding waters. He said trash thrown on streets – especially on Friday and Saturday nights – goes into storm drains that empty directly into the nearby oceans.
“Not many communities in the county have the direct connection that I.V. has with the ocean,” Almy said. “The storm drains are off the cliffs and the community is right on the edge of the ocean, so there is nothing to prevent trash on the streets from going right out into the ocean.”
Project Clean Water, established in 1998, seeks to implement solutions to ocean contamination on the South Coast. The organization is a collaboration of efforts by the cities of Santa Barbara and Carpenteria, and members of groups such as the Urban Creeks Council, the Audubon Society, the Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Ocean, and the Community Environmental Council. Project Clean Water is currently working to ameliorate the trash problem in I.V.
Almy said the beer cups, cigarette butts and other miscellaneous litter I.V. residents leave on the streets have detrimental affects on organisms that inhabit the surrounding oceans.
“Everything that goes down the storm drain endangers the health of organisms,” he said. “Aside from the trash that washes out on the shores, random plastics in the waters are also being ingested by smaller animals such as turtles.”
The UCSB Surfrider Foundation – a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans – plans on visiting residents on oceanside Del Playa Drive to brief them on the trash problem and what they can do to prevent hazardous wastes from reaching the surrounding waters.
“I think this is a great opportunity for students in I.V. to get more involved and have an active part in making our community a better place,” Surfrider President Craig Revell said. “We also want to be involved with testing the local water and cleaning the storm drains.”
The I.V. Recreation and Parks District sponsors an Adopt-a-Block program which facilitates weekly cleaning of different blocks in I.V. Students and volunteers can adopt a block, clean it that week, and in return the individuals participating will receive a free bagel and beverage from the Bagel Cafe.
Adopt-a-Block Director Angela Lang said 75 percent of the trash in I.V. never actually makes it to trashcans.
“People don’t have adequate trash service. By enforcing these cleanups we can reduce the overflow,” she said.
Almy said he is confident Surfrider will help people recognize the harmful effects of trash in the streets.
“If we get groups like the Surfrider Foundation involved in this movement, I have not doubts that we can make a positive impact on the I.V. community,” he said.