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urban stormwater

Photo by Steve Shimek


A natural consequence of urbanization and development is urban runoff, also known as stormwater. Various pollutants such as chemicals from businesses, poop and disease from pets and wildlife, oil from cars, and pesticides from yards, parks and golf courses end up on paved surfaces and gutters. When it rains, these substances are carried by stormwater directly into watersheds which act as a conduit to the ocean. Stormwater is a major source of pollution to California’s watersheds and ocean.

Controlling stormwater pollution is less about rainwater and more about the good practices that keep pollution off the streets and out of the storm drains. Where practices are poor, the first rain of the season can reach the ocean as a toxic “first flush.”

Cities are required to create a Stormwater Management Plan and apply for a discharge permit. Plans are required to include components addressing development standards, commercial and industrial facilities, municipal maintenance, public education and outreach, and more. A well written Stormwater Management Plan is an important tool in ensuring that cities are taking decisive action to minimize pollution in our waterways.

The Otter Project has taken a proactive role in advocating for effective stormwater management along the Central Coast. We have actively commented on Plans for the Monterey Region, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and more, and we have paid for consulting to help improve plans.

Waterkeeper Alliance logoOur water quality program is affiliated with the international Waterkeeper Alliance and is separately branded as Monterey Coastkeeper. Waterkeepers around the world are dedicated to protecting and restoring clean — drinkable, swimmable, and fishable — waters. The Alliance is led by Bobby Kennedy Jr.