Expert: Debris in waterways funneling to Sacramento's rivers at 'emergency' levels

As the rainy season picks up and area waterways begin to rise, the homeless living near levees are abandoning their camps and moving to higher ground. But they're leaving behind mounds and mounds of trash.

A Sacramento based geologist who has been examining creeks that flow into the Sacramento and American rivers says the trash and debris have reached emergency levels.

Roland Brady has more than 25 years experience working as a geologist and has spent that last 15 years focusing on watershed issues.

In August, Brady began documenting debris from homeless camps in and around Steelhead Creek in the North Sacramento neighborhood.

Hazardous and solid waste like syringes, motor fuel, propane tanks, shopping carts, clothes, human urine and feces have been found in area creeks, Brady said.

In August, Sacramento County leaders approved a $5 million plan to aggressively tackle and cleanup homeless camp along the American River Parkway by hiring and assigning a task force to the issue. 

According to Sacramento County Regional Parks data, park rangers have cleaned up and removed 1,078 illegal camps since January 2017.

However, Brady says crews have only been successful in cleaning out garbage from the surface of levees and not the trash near the waterways.

As the Winter season grows near, the potential of that waste entering the Sacramento and American rivers and polluting waterways is more possible.

The waste could harm wildlife and pollute the waterways and make it unsafe for people to enter, Roland said. 

Brady says the issue has reached the level of an "emergency" and that public officials should act quickly to prevent further damage.

We reached out to local officials to ask them about the status of Winter cleanups and are waiting to hear back. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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