Volunteers gather to clean up San Luis Rey riverbed

OCEANSIDE — More than 300 volunteers gathered at five different sites along the 55-mile long San Luis Rey River to haul 6,000 pounds of trash out of the riverbed.
Among the volunteers were many participants who implement “green” practices on a daily basis. Members of the Rancho Buena Vista High School Environmental Club were at the Harbor Beach trash collection site. “This is not an environmental club event,” Christina Bravo, Environmental Club secretary, said. “We’re just here to help and glad so many people came out.”
For Environmental Club members, reducing trash is a mission. “It’s a personal thing,” Megan Lopez, Environmental Club member, said. The club manages recycling collection bins at Rancho Buena Vista High School and visits elementary schools to teach younger students the importance of recycling. “You’ve got to teach kids when they’re young,” Lopez said.
Volunteers pulled splintered surfboards, glass bottles and old tires from the riverbed at the Harbor Beach site.
After a few hours of trash collecting, the 1-800-Got-Junk truck pulled up to haul a load of trash away. For the past six years, 1-800-Got-Junk has donated trash pickup services for the annual cleanup day. During those six years, owner Bill Cox has seen some progress in keeping the watershed clean. Driving the truck down to the riverbed to pick up discarded appliances and furniture is no longer necessary, Cox said. “The city’s staying on top of it,” Cox, said. The city’s attention to stopping illegal dumping and the discarding of shopping carts has helped keep big trash items out of the watershed.
Still, there were plenty of small trash items pulled out of the riverbed, and there is continued concern about water pollution from animal and human waste that forces beach closures.
The city is currently conducting a two-year study that includes DNA level bacteria testing to pinpoint the source of harmful bacteria that ends up in the watershed, Cynthia Mallet, Water Utilities Department environmental specialist, said. The test results will help target pollution sources and provide more information on how to stop water pollution.
For more information
on local watersheds and community cleanup projects, visit www.oceansidecleanwaterprogram.org.

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