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Stormwater runoff is the single largest source of Bay pollution. Save The Bay is advocating for local and regional policies to keep trash and other pollution out of storm drains to protect the Bay.


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The storm drains you see at the curb carry toxic trash and other pollution directly into local creeks and the Bay. To address this serious pollution threat, the SF Bay Water Quality Control Board requires Bay Area cities to eliminate trash flows into storm drains by 2022. Save The Bay is advocating for strong enforcement of these requirements to protect water quality and wildlife.

Read our 2017 State of Trash report.


Our highways and state roads are major sources of trash flows to the Bay, and Caltrans is not doing its part to clean it up. We can’t allow our state agencies to trash the Bay. Join us in demanding that the Water Board enforce clean water laws and hold Caltrans accountable for their negligence. Learn more here.

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Sign Our Petition

Join us in demanding that the Regional Water Quality Control Board enforce the federal Clean Water Act. Together, we can dial up the pressure and turn this issue into action.


  • Much of the trash polluting the Bay is plastic, which persists in the environment for hundreds of years. Ninety percent of trash in our waterways does not biodegrade.
  • Tiny particles of plastic 5 millimeters in diameter or smaller are called microplastics. A study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute showed that on average, Bay Area wastewater treatment plants released an estimated 7,000,000 particles per day to San Francisco Bay, as their screens are not small enough to catch them. Microplastics absorb pollution and threaten wildlife that ingest them.
  • Mercury contamination in Bay sediment and fish is largely the result of our region’s gold mining history, when mercury was mined throughout California and used to extract gold. But mercury from other sources also impact the Bay, including wastewater and urban runoff.
  • PCBs are another toxic substance that contaminates Bay sediment. PCBs are found in old building materials and flow into the Bay through urban runoff.
  • An overabundance of nutrients in the Bay—such as nitrogen—can cause harmful algal blooms that threaten fish and other wildlife. Some algal blooms are also dangerous to people, causing rashes and respiratory illness.
  • Over 100 pharmaceuticals and personal care chemicals have been measured in Bay waters. While current levels are not considered dangerous, studies have shown that these types of chemicals can inhibit reproduction in fish.


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Toxic materials and unwanted medication do not belong in your garbage bins and should not be flushed down the toilet. You can help protect the Bay by properly recycling and disposing of these items. Find a household hazardous waste disposal facility near you.