‘First flush,’ yet again

Barely an hour after Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers finished their labors on Saturday, it started to rain.

And now, sure enough, there are reports of dead fish in at least one Stockton waterway — specifically, at the head of Smith Canal in American Legion Park.

This is the annual “first flush” phenomenon. The first significant rains of the year cause an entire summer’s worth of fertilizer, pet feces, motor oil and trash to wash off lawns and city streets, down storm drains and into our streams. The sudden rush of contaminants is too much for many of the fish to survive.

Sad, but predictable.

At least the volunteers had already completed their work. Much of the trash they scooped up along the banks of rivers and streams would doubtless have been washed into the water by the storm, had the cleanup not happened when it did. Thanks to all who participated.

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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