SWAT

SWAT is a youth-leadership driven program to improve our local communities’ understanding and engagement in stormwater pollution, its sources and impacts on human health. Non-point source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems in our communities. The SWAT teams promote awareness on water quality addressing the use of garden pesticides, household products, street car washing and pet waste. They also engage in recycling systems on campus and active creekside habitat restoration, removing litter, invasive plants and introducing native vegetation to restore the natural ecosystem functions that clean our water.

The project sites are located in the East Bay. Participants come from low-income communities that live downstream from several major watersheds: Sausal Creek, San Lorenzo Creek and San Leandro Creek, extending from South Berkeley, to Oakland and Hayward. Affected neighborhoods include East and West Oakland, Coliseum Industrial, Fruitvale, San Leandro Bayfair District, Ashland, Cherryland and in general unincorporated areas near major freeways. Some of these populations have high environmental vulnerability indexes, high litter density and impounded streams or water bodies such as SanLorenzo Creek, Lake Merrit or Lake Chabot. 

SWAT outcomes include engaging and empowering youth to understand, monitor and communicate the impacts of stormwater pollution from household products, car washing, garden pesticides, pet waste, oil and litter, identifying and proposing to the community strategies to reduce these pollutants and ultimately changing community behaviors that affect adversely the quality of the water resources. 

EPA’s latest national water quality inventory states that runoff from urban areas is the leading source of water quality impairments to surveyed estuaries. The ways that people use their homes, gardens, cars and businesses directly affect the quality of the environment. SWAT teams’ work emphasizes pollution prevention and source reduction, over costly pollution treatment options.

Focus Areas

Used Oil

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Used Oil

Every year, Americans illegally dump 120 million gallons of used oil on the ground, down storm drains and in the trash. Each year in California, over 20 million gallons of used motor oil is disposed in an unknown manner by do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers, which equates to 1 gallon of oil improperly disposed of for every adult.

Pet Waste

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Pet Waste

It is estimated that 40% of households have a dog. There are approximately 80 million dogs in the United States, which means that 1 in 4 people has a dog. Extrapolating these figures to Alameda County, there are almost half a million dogs in the County, and 250,000 alone in the East Bay. Water pollution by coliform has been documented by several studies. Earth Team completed a pet waste studyfor ACWP Community Stewardship program in Sausal Creek in 2018 and found high concentration of coliform bacteria in the creek areas frequented by dog walkers as compared to upstream sections.

Garden Pesticides

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Garden Pesticides

Gardeners use up to 10 times more toxic chemicals per acre than farmers. Landscapes that contain naturally vegetated areas such as grasslands and wetlands allow water to filter slowly into the ground and groundwater. When these areas are converted to land uses that have increased areas of impervious surface, such as residential gardens, increased runoff and pesticide loadings are likely to occur.

Straws And Utensils

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Straws

High schools are considered high trash areas, 500 million straws, enough to fill 125 school buses, are discarded every day in the US. Americans use these disposable utensils at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day.Of the near 2 million students in the State of California, near 500,000 are from two East Bay counties and these, 128,000 are high school students which will discard near 75 million straws each year. The students targeted by this project (10,000), will discard 5million straws per year.