Recent flooding leaves Southern California beaches, wetlands littered with trash

The recent series of winter storms that dumped heavy rainfall across the region left a trail of damage in their wake, and now floods have pushed large amounts of trash into the ocean and onto Southern California beaches.  

Public works crews in Seal Beach used heavy machinery to pull massive piles of trash and debris off the beach after it ran into the ocean from nearby flood channels and then washed ashore.  

Some of the trash that flows into the ocean is caught up in flood channels in cities that are miles away from the beach.  

While Orange County officials say that littering is part of the problem, carelessness by those not meaning to litter is another.  

“The reason we see so many things like straws is because they’re lightweight, and so many people think they’re throwing it away,” Kimberly Buss with the Orange County Flood Control District said. “But the wind blows stuff out all the time. So, it’s just getting in the habit of putting the lids on the trash cans, putting the lids on dumpsters. You’d start to see a huge reduction in it. It’s just controlling it.”  

Around the county, there are different measures in place to try to catch some of the debris before it reaches the ocean, including booms near the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. While those measures help, trash still gets through.  

“We get all kinds of different trash out here,” Kenneth Perez, with the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, said. “You would think that a lot of the trash that we get out here is small stuff and that is definitely true. A lot of it is, like, microplastics, bottlecaps, you know, the little stuff that you normally associate with trash, but we do also get larger pieces of debris. 

Perez said that they’ve seen bedframes, mattresses and even car doors floating along the wetland waters.  

One thing that residents and organizations can do to help is get involved with the county’s adopt-a-channel program where volunteers work to keep portions of the channels clean and debris free. 

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