SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Car batteries, cleaning detergent, plastics, paper fecal matter and shopping carts are what Rob Carpenter has been seeing when he flies his drone over Steelhead Creek. It's also what he's been reporting to Sacramento County.
“Just want to bring this awareness to make sure we are doing our part to clean-up,” said Carpenter, a concerned resident in the area.
He reached out to the county over the concerns of toxins and all the trash littering embankments and leeching into the water.
Reclamation District 1000 is the agency that he felt was helping the most with the issue.
General Manager Kevin King said it has been a problem since he took over the organization in 2019, which is when park rangers also helped them relocate 81 encampments from critical parts of the levee so they could monitor for flooding.
“We removed over 110,000 pounds of trash just this year. Unfortunately, two weeks later, it looks like we weren’t even there,” said King.
They have an annual clean-up, and his office takes it upon themselves to host a cleanup every Friday. They are grateful the city and county passed an ordinance banning encampments from critical infrastructure like levees.
“The past three months now we’ve had weekly meetings with them to establish priority, and we did our first cleanup last week behind Home Depot behind Interstate 80,” said King.
Reclamation District 1000 has doubled their security budget, so once the critical area is clear, it stays clear. Plus, cleanups are 10% of their budget. It’s becoming a $350,000 a year problem.
Reclamation District 1000 says they are concerned about tomorrow’s rain because people living in the encampments will move up away from the water to the top of the levee, which means they can’t patrol and monitor for flooding.