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Winter Storms Pollute San Francisco Bay Waters With Trash

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- All the rain we've had is great for the reservoirs, but there's a downside: all the trash the downpours are washing into the San Francisco Bay.

It's no secret the Bay Area has a trash problem, and when it rains, that trash pours into our waterways.

"It's great news that it rained this week and it's also really bad news for the bay because there's so much trash pouring off our roads into the San Francisco Bay," said David Lewis, the executive director of Save the Bay.

He's pointing a finger directly at Caltrans, saying it has failed to do its job.

"Trash is one of the biggest pollution problems in the bay and Caltrans is one of the biggest contributors to that problem. Caltrans has been out of compliance with the Clean Water Act since 2016," Lewis said.

Lewis says he wants to see fines.

"Caltrans has just not made this a priority," Lewis said.

Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus said, "It's simply not true. Last year we spent $67 million picking up litter."

Haus says they're overwhelmed by, what he calls, a war on garbage.

They've added maintenance workers and have plans to add nets in waterways to catch garbage, but at the end of the day he's pointing a finger at the general public, saying that change needs to come from you.

"Until the amount of litter we deal with on a daily basis starts diminishing, we can't promise anything," Haus said.

He says fines will only take more public money away from public projects.

But Lewis said, "Unless Caltrans does a better job, we'll have more trash in the bay, fish and wildlife will suffer and we're going to smother the wetlands we're trying to protect."

Back in 2016, 76 Bay Area cities were threatened with fines for sending trash into the Bay. Now, all but eight are in compliance.

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