Ways to Get Involved with Protecting Sonoma County Creeks

September marks several dedicated efforts throughout California that signify the importance of clean water and promote cleanups of local waterways. Pollution Prevention Week (starting on the third Monday of September), Creek Week (starting the fourth week of September), and California’s Coastal Cleanup Day all coincide in September to encourage public participation in keeping our water free of harmful pollutants, with a primary focus on removing trash from local waterways.

The Russian River Estuary-An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater from rivers and streams meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean. Keeping creek clean keeps estuaries viable.(RRWA)
The Russian River Estuary-An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater from rivers and streams meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean. Keeping creek clean keeps estuaries viable.(RRWA)

Each September cleanup events are organized to bring volunteers together to clean up trash and debris from beaches, rivers, and creeks, to educate community on the importance of clean water, and to promote an overall appreciation of our environment, nature, and being outside.

This year most of these designated cleanup events will not take place due to the restrictions around COVID-19, but there are still many ways to participate and make a difference in your community. A simple way to participate is to pick up litter and trash near your home, neighborhood, or local creek. Trash and litter in the environment can end up in our waterways through the storm drain system. When it rains, trash can enter the storm drain system, which moves water from paved areas to local waterways. By picking up trash you can help prevent trash from ending up in our local creeks, the Russian River and the ocean. Even if you don’t live near the Russian River or the coast, your efforts will make a difference in protecting our water resource.

This year, as a way to show your participation, log your cleanup efforts using a trash collection app. Some options are Litterati - The Global Team Cleaning the Planet and CleanSwell - A Global Movement to Keep Beaches, Waterways and the Ocean Trash Free. By entering the amount of trash collected and the location collected you can help us record the success of creek week volunteers.

In addition to picking up trash, here are other ways to participate in Pollution Prevention Week and Creek Week:

  1. Attend an educational creek week webinar (Check www.rrwatershed.org/blog regularly for updates).
  2. Start a compost bin. Need help getting started? Check out our RRWA article archive www.rrwatershed.org/composting-dont-throw-it-away-compost-it or watch tutorials at https://zerowastesonoma.gov/recycle-dispose/residents/home-composting
  3. Discontinue pesticide and herbicide use in your garden with safer alternatives. Our Water, Our World helps residents manage their home and garden pests in a way that helps protect our watershed. Learn more here www.rrwatershed.org/project/our-water-our-world
  4. Dispose of unwanted household hazardous waste (HHW) at your local HHW Collection Events https://zerowastesonoma.gov/recycle-dispose/residents/hhw-collection-events
  5. Pick up pet waste
  6. Pick up leaf litter and yard waste to prevent it from clogging the storm drain
  7. When washing your car, don’t allow wash water to enter the storm drain
  8. Drop off unused and unwanted medications at a safe medicine disposal location. For location information visit www.rrwatershed.org/project/safe-medicine-disposal

These are just some ideas how you can help protect the environment. For more information on these and other ideas visit the Russian River watershed website at www.rrwatershed.org. Remember, September signifies the designated month to promote the importance of our local rivers and creeks, but these ideas to protect the environment can be implemented all year long.

Russian River Watershed Interactive Map


This article was authored by Jon Caldwell, PE, Civil Engineer, of the City of Cotati Public Works Department, and Colleen Hunt, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.

September 2020 Dates to Remember

National Pollution Prevention Week - September 21-28

Russian River Creek Week - September 21-28

Coastal Cleanup Days - Every Saturday in September

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