It’s a dirty job, and I did it – along with several other volunteers Saturday morning who showed up at the Valley Glen Pump Station in Dixon to participate in the 27th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day.
Dixon doesn’t have a major waterway running through it, but garbage from Dixon’s Valley Glen subdivision makes it into the storm drains and ends up in Valley Glen pond.
On Saturday, I was joined my about two dozen volunteers who came out to clean up the pond. There were members of the Dixon Kiwanis Club, Wolfskill 4-H Club of Dixon, UC Davis alumni, and others.
We started the day off with some water, orange juice and pastries before the site coordinator, Martha Jensen, gave us the rules for the day.
Separate recyclables from trash, use gloves, don’t pick up the grossest pieces of trash (i.e. tampons and condoms) and leave behind oil drums, she said.
We then made the five-minute walk from the pump station to the pond and proceeded to pick up trash where we found it. I decided to pick up every piece of trash and recyclable I came across, I would sort them later, and had a pretty good bucket going.
I encountered several pieces of plastic, various tennis balls, paper and cigarette butts. Jensen told us to let her know of anything unusual we found at the park because the county likes to keep track of that type of stuff.
But I didn’t come across anything unusual. I also came across several water bottles, many with the tops on, bottles of 5-hour Energy drinks, candy wrappers, aluminum cans, Styrofoam plates, a whiffle ball, and many strips of plastic.
Coastal cleanups such as the one in Dixon happened throughout Solano County. An estimated 17,000 volunteers had pre-registered for Coastal Cleanup sites throughout the county, 53 in all.
According to numbers provided by Solano Resource Conservation District – the coordinators of Solano’s various cleanup events – 2,604 volunteers showed up to pick up trash. From 9 a.m. to noon, the volunteers picked a total of 54,649 pounds of trash and 3,970 pounds of recyclables.
The volunteers covered 70 miles of neighborhood parks, hiking trails, bridges, creeks, lakes and ponds. In many sites, the volunteers encountered tires, paint cans and large appliances, according to the county.
“This is an incredible effort on the part of our communities to come together and help restore our watersheds. It also contributes greatly to the preservation of the natural habitats surrounding us”, said Marianne Butler, of the Solano Resource Conservation District and serving as Solano County’s countywide Coastal Cleanup Day coordinator.
“Some of the pollutants found today have traveled by wind or rain when littered on city streets. They eventually enter urban storm drain systems that then take them to creeks and ultimately the ocean,” said Narcisa Untal, Solano County’s Integrated Waste Management Planner. “Coastal Cleanup Day is an environmental education opportunity for volunteers to better understand the impacts littering has on the lands we live on, the waters we drink from, and the innocent wildlife we seek to protect.”
Dixon didn’t begin participating in the event until 2002, Jensen said, and Saturday’s turnout was the highest in recent memory, she said. It’s because of those volunteers that the county is cleaner.