Coastal Cleanup Day, the largest annual volunteer event in the state, will take place Saturday, Sept. 19.
The program's "LuvTheBay" campaign is encouraging Pleasanton and other Tri-Valley residents to participate in Alameda County cleanup events, both for the one-day trash collection effort and also throughout the month in similar efforts that are organized by public agencies and non-profit groups.
Last year, nearly 67,000 participants removed more than 1,190,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California's beaches, lakes, and waterways.
"More and more people are becoming aware of the extremely negative impact litter, especially plastic debris, has on wildlife and our water quality in general," said Clean Water Program Manager Jim Scanlin.
"When people attend a cleanup event, they feel good about being part of the solution, and many come away with a new respect for the importance of always using trash cans because even litter from inland communities still finds its way to the water," he added. "We encourage all cleanup volunteers to help spread this message in their communities."
Scanlin said that only a small amount of marine debris enters waterways directly. The vast majority of litterup to 80%originates inland, where it is carried by rainwater, street runoff and wind into the storm drain system.
From there litter travels into creeks, the Bay and the ocean, as stormwater generally does not pass through a water treatment plant.
Plastic bags and other lightweight plastic litter items are particularly hazardous because they float, entangling and poisoning marine wildlife that mistakes the items for food.
Less visible, but equally serious, Scanlin added, is the negative impact plastic marine debris has on the food chain: Plastic fragments can concentrate and transport chemical pollutants into the marine food web, and potentially into human diets.
To view a calendar of local cleanup and restoration events or to register to help, sign on to www.cleanwaterprogram.org/residents/volunteer/