Crest to Coast: Cleaning the Santa Ana River from its Mountains Streams to the Seaside

Crest to Coast: Cleaning the Santa Ana River from its Mountains Streams to the Seaside

By Megan Brousseau
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Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 2:00pm


The trash accumulating in our state’s waterways has been particularly troubling for me because the very health and well-being of every person in California is intimately connected to clean water. As southern Californians we rely on water to cool us off, hydrate us, and to provide a home for the vast array of plants and animals that make our region the paradise that beckons so many. Many Californians will tell you that the water is what drew them here and it speaks to them on a deep level. I am no different. A lifelong resident of the Inland Empire, I played in these waterways as a child, met my husband there as a young adult, and bring my children back to these waters as a mother.

For this reason, I was thrilled when the Inland Empire Waterkeeper (IEWK) was able to partner with Nestlé Waters North America’s Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water brand allowing us to host a series of local clean-up events over the year. As grateful as we are for the grant that made these clean-ups possible, I am also equally grateful for the can-do spirit, camaraderie and tangible results that we achieved together.

When we started our days, we were often staring at stagnant, murky creeks that stunk of the debris that had settled at the bottom and the bacteria that it fostered in the water. There were little to no water birds or fish to be seen. At each of the six events throughout the year the team of volunteers spent hours dragging out plastics, Styrofoam and unexpected items such as shopping carts, constructions materials, clothing and even 15 foot long rolls of carpet. By day’s end and with mud up to their chests, the final result of the volunteer’s hard work was clear waterways that were once again welcoming to fish and birds.

In fact, once the trash was removed, the Mill Creek in Chino regained 40% of its flow, and wildlife began to return to the area almost immediately. And upon returning the day after the clean up there were hundreds of water birds peppering the channel. Similar outcomes were seen time and time again at each event.

These results are promising for me because it shows what can be accomplished in ways of water quality improvement, plant and animal habitat restoration, and opportunities for families to enjoy these natural treasures, by a few hours of hard work from dedicated members of our community like the employees at Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.

While we are excited for what has been accomplished, we know there is still much work to be done. That’s why this year we will enhance our partnership with clean ups, education and outreach so we can help return California’s waterways to the unspoiled condition they deserve. Learn more about the project at our website:

Megan is a lifelong resident of Riverside who specializes in connecting learners to their communities and local environment through innovative opportunities. Her comprehensive background in program administration includes managing nature and science education venues, and developing science education programs in non-formal learning environments. An active member of the Inland Empire community, Megan has spent a decade working on projects that increase community livability and sustainability, from fundraising for nonprofits to the development of southern California’s largest family nature club. A dedicated lifelong learner, Megan’s academic background has focused on environmental studies and human-environmental interaction with a degree in Zoology. Megan’s passion lies in cultivating a love and stewardship for our local environment in people of all ages. In her free time Megan enjoys exploring Southern California’s trails and waterways with her family and her nature club Inland Empire Kids Outdoors.


Debora Fillis Ryba
+1 (203) 863-0163
Nestlé Waters North America
CATEGORY: Environment