Trash Management Questions Workshop 

San Francisco Estuary Institute

November 15, 2019, 9am - 5pm

Event Summary

On November 15, 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Office of Information Management and Analysis held the second annual Trash Data Dive at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, located in Richmond, California. The 2019 Trash Data Dive – a trash management questions workshop – was convened as an invite-only event where attendees built on the Inaugural California Trash Data Dive to compile, refine and prioritize management questions surrounding the nexus of trash and the following project areas:

The main goals for the 2019 Trash Data Dive were to develop and prioritize said management questions and establish a rough plan for 2020 Trash focused Datathon or Hackathon style events. Datathons tend to involve more discussion about the question(s) at hand and the data available to answer them; questions may need to be refined and data found before participants can work on answering the questions with data. At Hackathons, participants use available data to build prototypes of analyses, visualizations, or interactive tools that answer refined questions.

If you were not able to make the 2019 Trash Data Dive but would like to give us your perspective, or participate in future California State Water Board Trash related events, please fill out our Trash Stakeholder Questions Survey!

The 2019 Trash Data Dive was attended by 37 trash subject matter experts from across California. Representatives from State and Regional Water Boards gathered together with those from other state agencies and municipalities (Agency), non-governmental organizations (NGO), private consultants (Private), and academic institutions (Academia) (see Appendix I for a full list of participants). 

Project Facilitators

Facilitators were preselected based on their expertise for their respective project area. Each facilitator was asked to guide discussions and help participants efficiently reach specific goals throughout the day. 

Project Facilitators and their respective affiliations include:

Steering Committee

Members of the 2019 Trash Hackathon Steering Committee were selected because they have and continue to be champions of effectively using data to help solve problems associated with trash. The role of the Steering Committee was to help the State Water Resources Control Board’s Office of Information Management and Analysis develop and plan for the 2019 Trash Data Dive. 

Steering Committee members and their respective affiliations and sectors include:


Question Sorting Matrix

Workshop Process

Participants began at their primary project are of interest to discuss and compile management questions. Participants then randomly rotated though the remaining topic areas to provide input on questions in other project areas. This allowed participants to learn about other trash related project areas as well as meet and collaborate with individuals they may not get to collaborate with otherwise. This also encouraged participants to listen to and provide perspectives that in many cases are lost or not daylit until much later under traditional workshop structures.  

Once meeting participants refined and compiled management questions for each trash nexus project area, they ranked them by: 

Once ranked, questions were sorted by hackability and priority using a sorting matrix. Finally, participants voted for their top four question groups in each project area to help prioritize questions for 2020 Trash focused Datathon or Hackathon events.


Below are the questions and recommended next steps for each project area. Questions are ordered in relative order of priority and prioritization for 2020 Trash focused Datathon or Hackathon events.

Please visit the State Water Resources Control Board Data Center’s Trash Datathon Resources GitHub Page for details on other State Water Board resources about available trash datasets, projects to improve trash data collection methods and standards, and analytical tools to summarize trash-related data and support assessment of the causes and impacts of trash pollution. 

Data Models Outcomes

Sorting matrices from the Data Models and Homelessness groups 

Homelessness Outcomes

Sorting matrix from the Microplastics group


Sorting matrix and brainstorming notes from the Storytelling group 

Storytelling Outcomes

Tobacco group discussion and sorting matrix


2020 Trash Events

The State Water Board’s Office of Information Management and Analysis plans to host the following events in 2020, which will focus on addressing some of the questions above. Mark your calendars for the following events: 

More details on specific topics and event logistics coming soon!

If you  are interested in hosting, collaborating with the State Water Boards, or participating in an event that will tackle some of these questions, please let us know by filling out our Trash Stakeholder Questions Survey

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