Residents near Ballona Creek were upset about the amount of trash entering the Pacific Ocean. The trash from storm drains, which covers 150 square miles of Los Angeles, is dumped into Ballona Creek.
A pilot project, the Ballona Creek Trash Interceptor, was placed near the mouth of the creek in October and already there are dramatic results.
In just one week in November, the Interceptor off loaded 12 dumpsters, the equivalent of nine tons of debris, which included branches, plastics, Styrofoam and tires.
It is estimated that trash in Ballona Creek typically amounts to more than 60,000 pounds each year – which all goes into the ocean. The interceptor can capture trash as small as a water bottle cap size (.4” by .6”).
A community nonprofit, Friends of the Jungle, spearheaded the effort to put the Interceptor in place. Lucy Han, the founder and president of Friends of the Jungle, said that the interceptor was paid for by the manufacturer, The Ocean Cleanup, which currently has four interceptors deployed worldwide.
In 2016, “Our organization alerted County Public Works to the trash flushing from the Creek,” Han said. “We also contacted County Beaches & Harbor, the California Coastal Commission, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, CA. Fish & Wildlife, CA Regional Water Quality Board and the County Supervisor and CA Senator Ben Allen to raise awareness and have this problem addressed.”
With the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a partnership agreement was signed between the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and The Ocean Cleanup in November 2019 to implement the pilot project.
The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit, was founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat and is headquartered in the Netherlands. According to Slat, “Our aim is to have removed 90 percent of floating ocean plastic by 2040.”
Through research, Slat found that rivers are the main source of ocean plastic pollution, “about 1,000 rivers are responsible for roughly 80 percent of global annual emissions. . .with small urban rivers amongst the most polluting.”
The Ballona Creek drainage basin includes water from the Santa Monica Mountains to Baldwin Hills, flows through Culver City, Del Rey and empties in the ocean near Marina Del Rey and Playa del Rey.
Although the nonprofit paid for the interceptor, the County paid for moorings and maintenance for the two storm seasons, which is October through April.(Visit: https://ballonainterceptor.lacounty.gov)