“Trash Castle” at Huntington Beach Brings Attention to Stormwater Pollution on Coastal Cleanup Day


District: Headquarters
Contact: Tamie McGowen
Contact: Loren Magaña
Phone: (916) 956-0633

Public art piece is comprised of common stormwater pollutants that degrade California’s waterways

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Caltrans today unveiled the “Trash Castle” — a public art installation comprised of litter, plastics and metals collected from California’s stormwater system — as part of the department’s effort to educate Californians on stormwater pollution and ways to stop it at its source. A unique feature for today’s statewide Coastal Cleanup Day and Caltrans’ multiyear Let’s Change This to That stormwater education campaign, Trash Castle represents many of the common items that pollute lakes, rivers, streams and the ocean and is installed at the Trash Free Jubilee, a Huntington Beach cleanup event led by the California Coastal Commission and Orange County Coastkeepers.

"Trash Castle is a striking visualization of the common pollutants blighting community recreation spots and degrading California’s water. Our hope is that when people see the Trash Castle, they will start to understand the scope of the problem and be moved to make a difference.”

Tony Tavares, Caltrans Director

Californians are encouraged to do their part to reduce or eliminate these pollutants by making small changes that can have big positive results, such as:

  • Using organic pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Keeping vehicles clean and maintained.
  • Securing items in truck beds.
  • Picking up after pets.
  • Properly disposing of trash.

California artists Richard and Judith Lang created Trash Castle in partnership with Caltrans to help spread awareness about the effect of stormwater pollution on water quality. Caltrans is tasked with managing stormwater runoff and mitigating pollution within its 350,000 acres of right of way, which includes more than 15,000 miles of highway. This effort involves picking up roadside litter and clearing out storm drains to preserve roadway safety and drivability during all types of weather conditions.

As stormwater travels into storm drains, it transports pollutants from highways, streets, sidewalks and yards into our waterways. Unlike water that goes down the sink or toilet in a home, stormwater is untreated and flows directly into lakes, rivers and other waterways. Trash, metals, and bacteria are the most prevalent pollutants affecting water quality throughout the State.

"Water is essential, and we must not take it for granted. No matter where you live in Orange County, every one of us has a role to play in protecting our waterways from pollutants. With so many cars on the road, litter and metals are among the top contaminants that flow into the ocean. I’m proud that with this Coastal Cleanup Day, we are partnering with Caltrans’ statewide Stormwater Program to take direct action to safeguard the Huntington Beach coastline. The Trash Castle display is a clear representation of the sheer impact that human choices have every day on our natural environment. We share the responsibility to prevent pollution locally and globally.”

Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine)

Stopping pollution at the source is critical to Caltrans’ efforts to make stormwater runoff cleaner, which is why Caltrans recently spotlighted the top six pollutants that have an outsized impact on the water quality of lakes, rivers, streams and the ocean throughout the state and ways to mitigate them.

Trash Castle is available for viewing at Huntington Beach on September 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All materials used to construct the Trash Castle will be recycled following the event.

Let's Change This To That - stormwater pollution reduction campaign - image of a San Diego beach with litter removal before and after

About the Campaign

Let’s Change This to That is a three-year public education campaign led by Caltrans to raise public awareness and increase understanding of the sources and pathways of stormwater pollution throughout California. The campaign provides resources for people who live, work, and play in California’s unique communities to spur behavior change in ways that lead to improved water quality. For more information, visit the Clean CA website.

Image assets are available for download on the Clean CA resources page.