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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Summary: Preliminary Study
West Coast Communities’ Cost of Managing Marine Debris

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Marine Debris - Photo Credit NOAA

Photo credit: NOAA

Overview

Through a contract from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Office (EPA), Kier Associates (Kier) quantified the amount that 90 cities in California, Oregon, and Washington watersheds are spending to clean up litter and prevent trash from entering our oceans. This preliminary study found that West Coast communities are spending an estimated $520 million each year to control litter and avoid marine debris.

Objective

Marine debris is an enormous problem that needs to be addressed with multiple strategies, including reducing potential litter at its source, collecting trash with storm drain capture devices, and cleaning up debris in and along waterways. EPA commissioned this study to examine the costs associated with litter control in coastal cities. The purpose is to help accelerate the search for effective strategies to reduce and prevent trash streams from entering waterways and contributing to marine debris.

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Methodology

In 2011, EPA compiled an initial set of data from 15 cities based on conversations with city staff and publicly available reports. In 2012, Kier Associates compiled costs from an additional 75 cities from a random sample of communities within watersheds in California, Oregon, and Washington. Kier combined the two data sets for this analysis. Data from the cities includes expenditures for waterway cleanups, street sweeping, purchase of capture devices, storm drain cleaning and maintenance, and public litter campaigns.

Results

On average, cities spend an estimated $13 per person to control litter. Nearly fifty million people live in California, Oregon and Washington. If 85 percent of this population lives in coastal watersheds, Kier estimated that West Coast communities are spending more than $520,000,000 each year to combat litter and curtail marine debris.

Overall Costs

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs

Average Annual Cost

Largest

250,000 or more

$2,877,400 - $20,672,266

$10,054,805

Larger

75,000 – 249,999

$342,000 - $2,057,500

$1,211,522

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$37,500 - $2,330,000

$557,597

Smaller

0-14,999

$0 - $890,000

$95,345


Beach And Waterway Cleanups

West Coast cities spend on average $56,688 a year on beach and waterway cleanups.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$0 - $1,837,398

$422,185

$0.83

Larger

75,000-249,999

$0 - $17,500

$3,329

$0.03

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$0 - $112,459

$12,746

$0.28

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $114,005

$6,418

$1.28


Street Sweeping

West Coast cities spend on average $664,580 a year sweeping their streets.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$245,000 - $8,104,857

$4,084,492

$5.36

Larger

75,000-249,999

$180,000-$1,224,210

$641,298

$5.58

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$25,685-$1,300,000

$272,715

$7.06

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $160,301

$36,314

$5.48


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Purchasing Stormwater Capture Devices

West Coast cities spend on average $165,811 a year purchasing stormwater capture devices.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$0 - $2,508,000

$630,755

$1.32

Larger

75,000-249,999

$0 - $640,000

$223,105

$2.04

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$0 - $1,100,000

$164,499

$4.12

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $560,000

$27,382

$2.21


Cleaning And Maintenance Of Storm Drains

West Coast cities spend on average $294,935 annually on storm drain cleaning and maintenance.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$0 - $6,400,000

$1,943,260

$1.85

Larger

75,000-249,999

$0 - $1,098,000

$261,449

$1.73

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$0 - $538,778

$47,320

$1.07

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $85,000

$10,533

$2.32


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Manual Litter Cleanup

West Coast cities spend on average $304,545 annually on manual litter cleanup.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$48,000 - $7,000,000

$2,371,903

$2.58

Larger

75,000-249,999

$0 - $150,000

$50,141

$0.48

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$0 – 200,000

$46,188

$1.09

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $81,000

$11,166

$2.11


Public Education On Litter And Waste Disposal

West Coast cities spend on average $80,927 annually on public education relating to litter and waste disposal.

City Size

Population Range

Range of Annual Costs Reported

Average Annual Cost

Average Per Capita Cost

Largest

Over 250,000

$0 - $1,945,531

$602,208

$0.59

Larger

75,000-249,999

$5,000 - $72,000

$32,200

$0.29

Mid-Sized

15,000-74,999

$0 - $80,000

$14,127

$0.35

Smaller

Under 15,000

$0 - $25,000

$3,532

$0.46

The data in this preliminary study was gathered by the authors for informational purposes under contract to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The report does not represent EPA opinion, policy or guidance unless specifically indicated.

Full Report

West Coast Communities' Cost of Managing Marine Debris (full report) (PDF) (50 pp, 2M) About PDF

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