Zero Trash Talk in California

When it comes to talking trash in California, it goes beyond just players messing with one another on and off court. Sometimes the trash talk happens in court.

In the late 1990s the Los Angeles River was jammed with so much trash it was spilling into the Pacific Ocean. Leveraging the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) tool cited in the Clean Water Act, the California State Water Resources Control Board developed a Trash TMDL set at zero for the Los Angeles River Watershed. Backed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the TMDL could be applied countywide. Twenty-two cities sued to stop it. That was 2002.

In 2006 the California Court of Appeals in City of Arcadia v State Water Resources Control Board noted a variety of viable compliance measures local governments could use to reach the zero trash goal. After the cities balked at the costly measures for months, two paths to compliance eventually landed in play. One was to install full capture devices into storm drain systems. The other was to retrofit partial capture devices as catch basin inserts. Either way was a win. Trash in the Los Angeles River alone was reduced by 69 percent. Today there 100,000+ full capture devices scooping up TMDLs in the region.

The 2020 View

While the 2006 ruling put California on the path toward a lofty zero trash goal, subsequent measures have been introduced to accelerate it.

In 2015 the State Water Board adopted a series of Trash Amendments to produce the following outcomes:

  1. Establish a narrative water quality objective for trash
  2. Correspond the narrative with applicability
  3. Establish a prohibition on the discharge of trash
  4. Provide implementation requirements for permitted stormwater and other discharges
  5. Set a time schedule for compliance
  6. Provide a framework for monitoring and reporting requirements

In 2017 the State Water Board introduced new requirements that went into effect in 2020, including the following:

  • Upon reissuance or amendment, regional and state board Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits, and the statewide stormwater permit for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), will contain trash control implementation requirements and compliance milestones to demonstrate progress towards 100 percent compliance with the Trash Amendments.
  • The General Permits for Stormwater Discharges associated with industrial and construction activities will contain the prohibition of trash in stormwater and non-stormwater discharges when those permits are reissued.

California Certified

California engineers and contractors working on stormwater projects that require Trash Amendments compliance may contact Jensen Water Resources for a complementary consultation. The Jensen Deflective Separator is certified as a Full Capture System Device for Trash Treatment Control by the California Water Resources Control Board.

“Our stormwater customers in California will enjoy full compliance with all trash control stormwater regulations at both state and regional levels,” says Jensen Precast Stormwater Systems Division Manager Walter Stein, PE. “We are helping reduce and, in most cases, eliminate 100 percent of trash discharged from our stormwater drainage systems. We believe performance of the JDS System to capture trash is unmatched.”

The Jensen Deflective Separator functions as a full capture, swirl concentrating stormwater treatment assembly. Absent of moving parts, it can screen trash and debris from stormwater flows without blockage. Jensen Precast sizes the stainless steel cylinder metal screens with 2,400 to 4,700 micron (0.095”-0.185”) openings. Screening capacity exceeds a target the California State Water Resources Control Board stipulates as part of the Full Capture System Device for Trash Treatment Control certification.

Request your complimentary consultation now.

Definition of Full Capture Certification

A full capture system is any single device or series of devices that traps all particles retained by a 5 mm mesh screen and has a design treatment capacity of not less than the peak flow rate Q resulting from a one year, one hour, storm in the subdrainage area.

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