City of San Jose Announce Pilot Program to Reduce Trash to San Francisco Bay

San José Mayor Chuck Reed and EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld launched the Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities pilot program to highlight a significant pollution problem impacting San Francisco Bay.

The Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities pilot program will be aimed at reducing pollution and improving water quality along a 3-mile stretch of Coyote Creek. The program will employ and assist the homeless, deter dumping and litter, and engage neighbors as creek stewards along San José’s Coyote Creek.

“This pilot program uses an innovative and collaborative approach to restore the health of Coyote Creek,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “I’d like to thank the EPA and our other local partners for providing the bulk of the funding necessary to help foster the long-term stewardship of our local waterways.”

“Trash pollutes the environment, and it spoils our enjoyment of San Francisco Bay,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is pleased to augment state and local efforts to improve water quality, providing support for a project that will eliminate a major source of trash reaching the Bay.”

The event was held at Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Coyote Creek outdoor classroom where the EPA announced details of a four-year competitive grant to the city of San José in the form of $680,000 in federal funding from the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund. Since 2008, Congress has appropriated $22 million to EPA for a competitive grant program, which now supports 31 projects, leverages more than $13 million, and strengthens partnerships with 40 organizations to protect and restore San Francisco Bay watersheds.

Local matching funds for the grant are being provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District ($130,000) and the eBay Foundation ($20,000) to support creek cleanup, community engagement, and social service aspects of the project. The City of San Jose’s contribution of $113,000 is allocated to support cleanup efforts and is being paid out of the Integrated Waste Management Fund and Storm Sewer Operating Fund.

Trash, toxic household products, and human waste along Coyote Creek between Tully Road and East William Street have severely compromised water quality in Coyote Creek.

In the last three years, the water district and the city have pulled approximately 300 tons of trash from homeless encampments and trash accumulations in Coyote Creek; of this, approximately 150 tons were from the project area.

“Trash not only impacts the fish and wildlife in the creek, much of it ends up in the Bay,” said Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Chair Don Gage. “It’s always best to stop pollution at the source. If this project succeeds, it be could a model for long-term pollution prevention.”

The Clean Creeks, Healthy Communities project seeks to:

    • Engage with targeted communities to expand their role as stewards of Coyote Creek.
    • Work with community organizations to implement effective, innovative methods to engage the homeless in removing trash from Coyote Creek by supplying incentives, training, and a path out of homelessness for up to 50 individuals.
    • Implement a plan to prevent illegal dumping.
This program is made possible with the active participation of various agencies including the city of San José, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Downtown Streets Team, Destination: Home and San José State University.

The success of the pilot program will be measured by its ability to deter trash-generating behaviors through active creek stewardship. The project will start July 2011 with expected completion by June 2015.

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