Today we toured around to look at the debris in Orange County waterways. The sites we went to are those sampled in the Water Quality Control Board’s Rapid Trash Assessment protocols. Evaluators fill our score cards with different scores for different trash parameters (such as level of trash, presence of biohazards, etc). A total score is then added up across the parameters and any number below 60 is considered of poor quality. Our first stop was at Fullerton Creek by California State University (Fullerton Campus). There was a frat house nearby which the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) researchers suspect is the source for some of the trash found in this area. The site was relatively clean with only a few food wrappers, etc. Because southern California is so dry, the creek was very shallow and only averaged about 6 inches deep or so.
We visited two more sites farther downstream on Fullerton Creek. These were both concrete lined and fairly clean. The researchers from SCCWRP were actually a little surprised at how clean they were!
On our way back to the office, Shelly (one of the SCCWRP researchers) wanted to visit a plastics company to look for spillage of plastic pellets that occur during offloading of train cars. We attempted to find two different companies, but both had moved on and were no longer at the addresses listed. She was told that this is common practice for plastic companies, but it wasn’t clear exactly why.
The afternoon was spent meeting with folks from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and several other researchers from SCCWRP. We were able to see results from both their beach debris sampling, as well as trawl data from Algalita to get an idea of their Pacific “garbage patch” sampling endeavors.