To prevent litter from being released into water bodies such as Ballona Creek, the Los Angeles River and local beaches, city officials say a Los Angeles City proposition has facilitated the installation of 14,300 catch basin screen covers and 7,400 catch basin inserts throughout the high and medium trash generation areas of the city.

The catch basin screen covers and inserts were installed through the first two phases of Proposition O’s Catch Basin Screen Cover and Insert Project, which prevents litter from polluting the Los Angeles River, Ballona Creek and local beaches.

Proposition O, passed by Los Angeles voters in November 2004, allows for projects to protect public health by cleaning up pollution, including bacteria and trash, in the city’s watercourses, beaches and the ocean in order to meet Federal Clean Water Act requirements.

Los Angeles City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry joined leaders from the Department of Public Works, the city Stormwater Program, Heal the Bay and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Thursday, December 13th, to announce the success of the first two phases of the Catch Basin Screen Cover and Insert Project.

“Thanks to L.A. voters who passed the Prop. O water quality bond, we have installed screen covers and inserts at more than 20,000 street gutters to prevent trash from getting into our waterways,” said Garcetti, president of Los Angeles City Council. “We started the program in the areas that generate the most trash so that we could make the biggest impact.

“As we head into the rainy season, we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our drinking water, oceans, and rivers.”

The impact of the project is far-reaching from non-coastal neighborhoods to those along the coast, city officials said. Catch basin inserts and screen covers have already been installed in the high trash generation areas of the city in communities such as the Civic Center, portions of Pico Union, South Los Angeles and Boyle Heights.

Catch basin screen covers have also been installed in portions of the medium trash generation areas in neighborhoods such as Hollywood, Silver Lake, Mid-Wilshire, and portions of West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Catch basins, which collect rainwater and urban runoff from the streets, serve as an entry point to the storm drain system, where untreated water enters and flows directly to the Los Angeles River and Ballona Creek. The main litter sources contributing to beach and marine pollution in the city are plastic and paper, city officials said.

“The city continues to work diligently towards our goal of litter prevention and environmental protection,” Perry said. “With the help of Prop O, we can educate communities to make the connection that when litter is thrown on the ground or into the street, it goes directly into the ocean.

“Through public support and the prevention of litter from entering the storm drain system, we will gradually put an end to

polluting our waterways, and endangering public health and marine life.”

Catch basin inserts and screen cover installations began in 2005 and were completed in September, with a total cost of $27 million for Phases I and II. Phase III is scheduled to begin in the spring and will retrofit approximately 34,000 remaining catch basins with opening screen covers.