Disney & Wyland Help Launch County Adopt-A-Channel Program

On Thursday, September 12, 2013 KABC-LA Channel 7 ran a story during their 5 o’clock evening news about the Disney & Wyland sponsored Adopt-A-Channel program.  The story described the OCCC’s involvement in working with Disney and OC Public Works to clean up our county’s storm drains.

See the ABC7 broadcast below along with Disney’s blog video of the event and the OC Register’s article about the same subject.


Orange County Register
September 12, 2013

Disney-Anaheim clean-up project goes countywide


Disneyland Resort officials tried to make sure its water was clean before it ran from the theme parks’ property.

But when the water entered Anaheim’s flood channels, it blended with hypodermic needles, auto parts, dead animals and Cheetos wrappers as it flowed toward the ocean. Spray cans were left behind by taggers, who frequently marked up the slanted, concrete walls a few blocks from Disneyland.

For the past year, Disney has funded a project to remove trash and graffiti along a two-mile stretch of the channel closest to its theme parks.

Today, Disney plans to join with OC Public Works to ask others to do the same.

OC Public Works officially plans to kick off an Adopt-A-Channel program to get the public involved in the county’s 350 miles of flood channels that feed into the Pacific. Much like the Adopt-a-Highway program, businesses, organizations and individuals would sponsor the maintenance of a stretch of a storm-water channel.

“If we can start this one domino going, others can join us,” said Frank Dela Vara, environmental-affairs director for the Disneyland Resort who came with the idea for the pilot project.

Orange County channels

OC Public Works is in charge of managing the watershed system, along with cities, in channels with earthen floors and concrete walls. The main role is to protect human life and property during storms, said the county’s Grant Sharp, manager of the environmental-monitoring section.

But the program is strapped when it comes to dealing with graffiti and pollution, which flows down streets into pipes that feed the channels. Crews will go to scenes, as needed. Each stretch gets one inspection per year before the storm season, Sharp said.

Workers also scrape out trash caught by 12 barriers throughout the county before the ocean.

Some of the debris gets through and can harm the wildlife, said Grace Adams, executive director of the Bolsa Chica Conservancy in Huntington Beach. Bolsa Chica officials have found soccer balls, oil cans and even TV sets in the wetlands.

She’s seen birds with cigarette butts in their mouths. More than 50 species of marketed fish are there.

“If you don’t protect this resource, it affects you and I,” Adams said.

Anaheim project

Upstream, miles away in Anaheim, the pilot project aimed to prevent some of that trash from making its way into the ocean.

In June 2012, the Disneyland Resort gave $50,000 to the Orange County Conservancy Corps to help out.

Once a week, usually on Fridays, a few corps members in work boots shuffle down steep concrete walls, bringing grabbers to clinch the trash and toss it in black bags. The corps started with a two-mile stretch a few blocks west of the Disneyland Hotel, running near the Hermosa Village housing complex and Energy Field park.

Crews sometimes go beyond the two-mile area, to the stretch by Lake Intermediate School in Garden Grove where graffiti was rampant. The corps also takes pictures of graffiti and reports it to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s taggers program. About 90 percent of the corps work is painting over graffiti.

Now, less trash and graffiti are in the channel and downstream. Sharp said the Anaheim channel is “virtually free of any issue.”

“The difference is just incredible,” Dela Vara said.

Last week corps members visited a channel near the Boeing Company plant in Huntington Beach, where an inflatable trash barrier catches debris.

Before, said Josh Volp, the corps’ director of operations, the garbage mashed up against the concrete walls. Last week, though, the junk was mostly in a stream in the middle; there were dozens of spray cans, three basketballs and plastic.

“It’s a lot better down here, because a lot of litter picked up there doesn’t come downstream,” Volp said.

Now, the county hopes more people will join the program.

So far, there’s no minimum requirement of funding or help. Scouting troops, individuals and an art gallery already have mentioned that they want to join. Disney will stay involved. The county wants interested parties to come forward, and officials will come up with a program that works for the group, Sharp said.

“We want people’s time and effort and dedication,” Sharp said.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3793 or stully@ocregister.com

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