Heavy rains across Southern California have sent a stream of trash and debris flowing down the San Gabriel River while the garbage-filled water ends up getting dumped into the ocean.  

KC Fockler, co-chair of the Seal Beach/Huntington Beach Surfrider Foundation, who went to see the mess, said he couldn’t believe the amount of trash that’s accumulated. 

“Within a matter of 48 hours, there has to be thousands and thousands of pounds of trash that has re-accumulated itself along the banks of the San Gabriel River,” Fockler told KTLA’s Jennifer McGraw.  

Rain has flushed out riverbeds in Los Angeles and other cities, sending more than 50 miles of rain runoff toward local beaches. 

Both Orange and Los Angeles counties have plans in place to intercept trash before it gets to the ocean. That garbage is collected and removed from the river bottom.  

However, when it rains, as it did over the weekend and into Monday, trash and debris get pushed downriver.  

“If they were to try to put screens or something like that along the drains, in the curbs, then what ends up happening is it can just back up the system, back up so the streets get flooded etcetera,” Fockler said.  

Without a system for keeping the trash out of the runoff, it ends up at the oceanfront, elevating bacteria levels and harming the ecosystem.  

“Especially all the plastics, all the Styrofoam…it is a nightmare, and it ends up in our food chain,” Fockler said. “It basically is going to take a lot of people a lot of time in order to clean this up and the next high tide that we have will probably take some of this, pick some of it off the inside of the river here…and it’ll probably pull it right to the sea.”  

L.A. County Public Works told KTLA that it’s up to every jurisdiction to keep the river bottom clean, but that one big problem officials deal with on a daily basis is illegal dumping.