Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Frances Edwards


Water pollution, trash capture devices


Water pollution negatively impacts the environment and human population. The problem persists despite various mitigation efforts, strategies, and the implementation of regulatory requirements. It is estimated that Californians dispose of approximately 40 million tons of consumer items and waste materials annually (California Department of Resource Recycling and Recovery, 2019). As the population increases, it is expected that negative impacts of trash on the environment will be exacerbated. To address this, municipalities in California apply various methods to reduce trash before it enters ocean waters.

The primary vehicle for urban trash pollutants to reach ocean waters is through storm water conveyance systems. This infrastructure resides below or above ground level and may be open to the atmosphere. While government agencies across California employ strategies to intercept trash from these conveyance systems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a framework of requirements to abide by when managing stormwater discharge (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2021). In response, government agencies use a variety of methods to comply with the requirements. One method is through the implementation of trash capture devices (TCDs) at the point of entry into the stormwater conveyance systems. The City of Milpitas has employed these devices since 2017 as part of their trash pollutant reduction strategy and has 262 units in operation (Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program, 2022a).

This research is intended to evaluate the performance of the TCD program as implemented by the City of Milpitas, as part of their obligation to fulfill regulatory requirements and enhance environmental quality. This research is not intended to dissect performance at a granular level nor prescribe one TCD design as superior to others. It is intended to measure the overall program performance, as designed, and allow for policy makers to possess a collection of outcome data. The program will be measured by benchmarking performance against peers operating in Santa Clara County under the same permit umbrella. Accomplishing this goal requires analyzing a collection of data from municipalities reported to a regulatory body. The information contained herein provides policy makers with an additional tool to evaluate and consider as they develop their own programs related to trash capture from storm drains.