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August is National Water Quality Month and the City of Watsonville is requesting help reporting crimes committed against our watershed. Vigilant residents can make a difference when it comes to preventing the pollution of local creeks.
August is National Water Quality Month in the United States, and the City of Watsonville is seeking the support of our Watsonville community members to ensure the health of our watershed. There are several ways to stay engaged in environmental quality and vital, daily actions that individuals can take to safeguard our local creeks, river, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Recently, an ongoing issue of illegal vandalism and toxic dumping has frustrated dedicated City Water Supply staff, who are calling on Watsonville residents for help. If you witness someone in the act of vandalism, littering, or dumping toxic trash into any creek or the Pajaro River, please dial the City's non-emergency response line at (831) 471-1151.
Mike Molfino, Senior Water Operator for Watsonville's Public Works Department, has a longterm relationship with caring for the City's water supply. Mike and team are an integral part of the City's Water Division, responsible for one of life's most valuable resources: drinking water. The City's regional water system consists of 190 miles of pipelines, 14 wells, 8 reservoirs, and the Corralitos Filtration Plant treatment plant that delivers clean, safe water to a service population of 66,000+ customers. Monitoring the water that feeds the City illustrates a clear connection between the significance of a healthy water supply and the importance of maintaining a pristine environment. Recently, Mike's crew has made the unfortunate discovery of vandalism and toxic dump sites upstream of the City's Corralitos Water Filtration Plant. Toxic spray paint coating the underside of a local bridge and illegal cans of open paint, empty bottles of alcohol, and spray bottles are found strewn about the scene, often directly in the water.
The City of Watsonville's Water Division.
"Our team's entire goal in work and our major personal motivation is to provide clean water to our deserving Watsonville residents. It is discouraging to see that a few irresponsible individuals can contaminate our water, which affects the health of our creeks, rivers, and all of the plants and animals that depend on this water," Mike explained. He continued "While our water is filtered and tested before it is delivered to humans, there is no check and balance, no water filter for all of the organisms in nature that are receiving dirtied water."
The City is grateful for Mike's dedication, as his water crew voluntarily delays their other work to clean up the mess as frequently as they can. Cleanups, however, are a last ditch effort. Trash is often already carried away by the stream, and harmful chemicals from the paints and spray cans have seeped directly into the water.
Vandalism, littering, and illegally dumping poisonous materials into any public body of water in Watsonville's watershed is illegal. The City relies our residents to be our eyes and ears, our on-the-ground water protectors.
Open spray paint and beer cans litter the ground and float in the water near Corralitos Filter Plant, Corralitos Creek, 2018. A newly tagged vandalism site is harsh on the eye. Photos courtesy of Mike Molfino.
If you witness someone in the act of vandalism, littering, or dumping toxic trash into any creek or the Pajaro River, please do the following:
*Please note: Do not call the non-emergency hotline to report existing trash/vandalism. This number is to be used should you witness people participating in these illegal activities.
Help Stop Illegal Dumping:
The City of Watsonville provides resources to appropriately and safely dispose of waste, and we need your help spreading the word. Our Waste and Recycling Center at 320 Harvest Drive accepts most recyclable items for free, including up to 9 tires per person, per year, and mattresses, two of our more commonly found items buried in the river mud. If you find yourself with extra large trash last minute, please see if we can take it, or if items can be reused and donated! Call (831) 768 - 3100 for more information.
Let your friends and family know that there are alternatives to illegal dumping, the last place we want these items to end up is at the bottom of a river, it takes more effort and more money to remove, and we know that nobody wants a dirty backyard.
Save Our Shores' volunteers remove tires from the Pajaro River.
Be proactive! Celebrate National Water Quality Month this August and beyond by following some of these easy, daily steps to support clean water:
Vandalism, toxic trash, and illegal dumping issues are continuous and the City of Watsonville is grateful to all residents, partner organizations, and neighboring jurisdictions that participate in solution-building. The City and Public Works' Water Division sincerely appreciate the support of our dedicated community to care for our water and environment.