On Coastal Cleanup Day last year, when volunteers worked to eradicate waste from the Bay, 125 tons of trash was plucked from the water -- including 15,000 plastic bags, according to Save the Bay. An average of three pieces of trash was found along every foot of streams leading to the Bay.
The trash threatens more than 500 species of wildlife, including 23 endangered species such as the California clapper rail, Save the Bay officials said.
"We need to act now to stop trash from polluting the bay and killing its wildlife," David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, said in a statement.
Cerrito Creek in El Cerrito, which runs adjacent to the El Cerrito Plaza shopping center and picks up windblown trash, and Coyote Creek in San Jose -- which contains what Save the Bay called "trash rafts," or clusters of garbage from dumping, littering and nearby encampments -- are named as the two most trash-polluted waterways in the Bay Area.
Save the Bay also listed Saratoga Creek in Saratoga, which collects trash from high-use areas including a nearby community college, shopping mall and expressways, and Colma Creek in South San Francisco as other waterways that dump waste into the Bay.
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board is examining whether the federal Clean Water Act water quality standards are met for those waterways, Save the Bay officials said.
A possible solution is a five-year storm water permit to be considered this fall by the water board that would regulate the amount of trash cities and counties may discharge into the Bay, Save the Bay officials said.
"Because most Bay Area cities have not significantly reduced trash entering bay waterways, a strong storm water permit with real trash reduction requirements and enforcement is essential to make the bay cleaner," Lewis said. "Tough restrictions are needed to stop trashing the Bay."
The permit would cover Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, according to Save the Bay.
Save the Bay's 23 most trash-polluted waterways that drain directly into the Bay are:
1) Cerrito Creek in El Cerrito
2) Coyote Creek in San Jose
3) Saratoga Creek in Saratoga
4) Colma Creek in South San Francisco
5) Guadalupe River in San Jose
6) Rindler Creek in Vallejo
7) Baxter Creek in El Cerrito and Richmond
8) Sausal Creek in Oakland
9) Damon Slough in Oakland
10) Strawberry Creek in Berkeley
11) San Pablo Creek in San Pablo
12) Petaluma River in Petaluma
13) San Tomas Aquino Creek in Santa Clara
14) Silver Creek in San Jose
15) Kirker Creek in Pittsburg
16) Grayson Creek in Martinez
17) San Mateo Creek in San Mateo
18) Permanente Creek in Los Altos
19) Cordonices Creek in Berkeley
20) Stevens Creek in Mountain View
21) Matadero Creek in Palo Alto
22) San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto
23) San Leandro Creek in San Leandro