A Wet Winter Washes California Clean

Last winter, California experienced the wettest year in 122 years. The state’s rivers swelled and then flooded, the reservoirs filled and then overflowed, the mountains saturated and then slid. The state has been under a state of emergency because of a five year drought (officially declared in 2014, and ended in April, 2017), and the rain was a relief to many in the agriculturally dominant state. The states annual average rainfall is 18.5 inches, this year it got almost 30 inches.

As billions of gallons of water washed across the state on a journey from the clouds to the sea it picked up and carried litter along with it.

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From the Tracking California’s Trash Project, Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies & 5 Gyres. Photo: NOAAA Marine Debris Blog.

Stormwater monitoring is common across the state. Because of the unique Mediterranean climate, the fist major rain of the season is typically associated with a spike in pollution runoff. Volunteers across the state collect water samples and make observations during these storm to try and understand the impacts. It also gives the state an opportunity to clean up the streets before the first major rains occur, thus preventing a massive influx. Still the most effective way of preventing litter from getting into the ocean, is keeping it out of the watershed.

Read more from NOAA here

Read about the end of the drought here

Read more about the winter storms here

 

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