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City of SB receives $1.26M for microplastic pollution prevention research

Study looks at how much plastic is settling to the bottom of the ocean
Posted at 2:09 PM, Apr 30, 2023

The City of Santa Barbara's Sustainability & Resilience Department announced in a press release that the Creeks Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Division (Creeks Division), has been awarded $1.26 million in grant funding for microplastic pollution research.

Microplastics are small plastic pieces or fibers smaller than 5 millimeters in size, or about the size of a pencil eraser. They are found on our streets, in our creeks and ocean, in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. Microplastics can absorb and carry pollutants, leach harmful chemicals into the water, and are often mistaken for food by wildlife.

The project, “Clean Streets, Clean Seas: Innovating Public Works to Intercept Microplastics in Urban Runoff,” will provide the first measured and reported results on the impacts of street sweeping and trash capture devices on microplastic marine debris in stormwater runoff, which transports the bulk of microplastic pollution to the sea.

Project fieldwork will take place in Santa Barbara as well as the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the City of Santa Barbara, the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and other areas and organizations.

This funding is part of a $27 million funding effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address the prevention and removal of debris in marine and Great Lakes environments throughout the country.

“The Creeks Division’s research on decreasing the number of microplastics reaching our creeks and ocean complements the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce the impacts of single-use plastics in Santa Barbara,” said Sustainability & Resilience director Alelia Parenteau, in a press release. “We look forward to this project contributing important data to help government agencies nationwide take meaningful action to prevent microplastic pollution.”

The Sustainability & Resilience Department will bring the item to the Santa Barbara City Council to accept the grant funding in August.