Stormwater Runoff Program and Development butterfly

What is the purpose of this program?

Urban stormwater runoff has been identified as the number one pollutant to the nation’s receiving waterways, a significant danger not only to flora and fauna, but also to humans that recreate in those waters. Urban runoff carries contaminants such as litter, food, human & animal waste, automobile fluids, industrial pollutants, fertilizers, and pesticides, to the ocean and beaches. Runoff can harm marine life and create health risks for people contributing to beach advisories and closures.

Our modern day urban centers and rural neighborhoods are made up of impervious surfaces (hardened surfaces that do not allow water to pass through) such as roofs, streets, and parking areas. When rain falls on these surfaces, it flows faster and in greater amounts than it would have under pre-development conditions significantly increasing runoff and decreasing infiltration and evapotranspiration. Runoff is typically conveyed by pipes, driveways, streets, and storm drains to creeks and the ocean, where it can cause flooding, road damage, stream erosion, and landslides. Runoff also carries sediments and other pollutants to beaches and rivers making them unsafe for recreation and wildlife. Though it starts as relatively clean rainwater, runoff collects pollutants as it flows over the landscape. For example excess lawn fertilizers, pet waste, soap from car washing, oil and grease from leaking engines, zinc from tires, and copper from brakes are just some contaminants that have been found in runoff. It is important to note that nearly all storm drains in Pacific Grove empty into local waterways UNTREATED. (Slow it! Spread it! Sink it!, A Homeowners Guide to Sustainable Home Drainage, Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, June 2009, pg 8)

Pacific Grove’s stormwater runoff drains into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). A large area of the City drains into the Pacific Grove Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) a State designated area within the MBNMS. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regulate storm water discharges into these areas. The Pacific Grove Area of Special Biological Significance is a special designation our community has to showcase. The City is making a variety of efforts to ensure that waters entering this area are clean and healthy for the people that use the shore and beaches in this area, as well as marine environment.

The program supports the City’s stormwater management goals to protect water quality of the ocean and slowing storm water down and reducing runoff when possible. Clean it!, Slow it!

Because stormwater goals relate closely to other citywide environmental goals, the program supports broader practices with multiple environmental and community benefits (e.g., planting more trees and reducing bird pollution).




What does the City of Pacific Grove want to encourage?

The City has two major focus areas for small scale stormwater projects: improving water quality and slowing the flow of runoff draining to the ocean to protect the health of the Monterey Bay.


All of our activities have some effect on Monterey Bay. Whether it's washing our cars in the driveway, not picking up pet waste, or not securing trash can lids, contaminated water flows into a storm drain system, ultimately draining into the ocean.

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain flows over the ground, picking up pollutants such as oils and metals from vehicles; sediment from paved surfaces, bare soil areas, and rooftops; and fertilizers and bacteria. Driveways, sidewalks and streets are impervious surfaces that prevent water from soaking into the ground and being filtered. These polluted waters result in the degradation of fish, wildlife, aquatic habitats and our own swimming and fishing activities.

Only rain water is permitted down the storm drains. Anything else can harm wildlife and the environment. If you see a spill or something else being dumped into a drain in Pacific Grove, you can report it by calling (831) 648-5722 and the City will respond. For reporting spills in other jurisdictions go to the Monterey Regional Stormwater Management Program web page.

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