Trash & Bacteria Totals

Every month since January, 1997, the Institute has removed several hundred to several thousand pounds of trash from the shoreline of Lake Merritt.

Bird sitting on trash

Rainfall washes trash from streets into Lake Merritt



Trash removed by volunteers

Trash is removed by staff & volunteers



Volunteers removing trash

Trash Graph

Four to six thousand pounds/month of trash are removed during the rainy season.
A few hundred to about fifteen hundred pounds are removed during the summer months when no rain falls.



Trash in Lake Merritt

Trash being washed in from Glen Echo Creek during a rainstorm

What must be done about trash in urban runoff?

  • In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally declared that the beneficial uses of Lake Merritt (recreation, wildlife, spawning & estuarine habitat) are "impaired" because of trash and low oxygen.
  • In 2009, the Water Quality Control Board required 70 Bay Area cities to reduce trash in storm water 40% by July, 2014; 70% by 2017 and 100% by 2020.
  • If these requirements are not met, penalties could be as high as $25,000 per day or $10 per pound of trash remaining in the water!
Trash found in Lake Merritt

Lost Anything? We found these in the Lake.

Trash Removal for 1997-2016 (Volume in lbs.)
Month 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997
January 2,420 1,060 1,360 1,600 1,660 3,260 6,740 3,000 6,900 4,260 7,200 6,740 9,680 4,600 4,480 6,980 3,980 4,677+ 5,340 1,730
February 2,460 2,600 2,960 2,180 1,740 2,560 3,400 4,840 3,160 5,820 4,840 5,860 9,080 4,800 3,940 7,700 8,060 6,536 5,025 4,450
March 3,760 1,660 2,400 2,060 3,080 3,120 4,060 3,060 1,380 4,780 7,360 5,600 6,820 9,580 7,060 2,700 3,940 4,300 3,240 4,550
April 2,200 1,880 1,780 2,260 4,020 1,920 3,900 2,080 940 3,000 4,940 5,520 2,760 7,440 2,840 3,260 3,580 5,520 2,100 2,800
May 1,580 1,480 2,240 2,620 1,600 2,020 2,240 1,360 2,420 1,820 3,420 3,060 1,520 3,080 3,460 1,300 2,680 1,980 1,580 3,600
June 1,380 560 1,020 1,420 860 2,080 1,620 1,360 900 3,280 2,620 2,740 1,260 1,600 620 1,440 1,840 880 1,853 1,700
July - 1,200 920 260 1,100 1,100 1,200 965 440 1,400 1,380 560 1,340 780 1,600 1,550 1,860 1,600 1,220 1,300
August - 960 1,060 2,060 1,880 940 1,420 1,680 1,960 1,180 2,320 2,020 800 760 1,040 980 2,300 980 1,080 1,700
September - 1,040 2,200 1,220 1,980 600 1,380 2,100 600 2,460 1,320 540 4,060 680 860 2,900+ 1,760+ 1,040 586 890
October - 440 1,980 1,320 2,720 1,760 1,280 4,640 2,160 4,360 2,280 2,100 6,880 1,400 1,220 3,920 3,960 2,880 2,180 5,340
November - 1,650 1,760 2,180 3,280 740 2,560 3,260 4,140 1,680 3,060 6,160 5,700 7,580 7,220 8,000 5,360 6,180 2,421 2,750
December - 3,220 2,340 1,640 2,740 1,000 3,400 3,260 2,380 3,680 5,320 5,040 9,200 8,840 8,620 10,220 1,580 2,660 4,380 3,340
Totals - 17,750 22,020 20,820 26,860 21,100 33,200 32,965 27,160 37,720 45,940 59,100 51,140 42,960 50,950 39,233 40,900 30,916 49,720