The City storm drain system collects storm water runoff from City streets along gutters and through underground pipes to discharge into waterways and ocean. The system is designed for the control of flooding and does not provide any treatment to the storm water run off. Storm water entering drains flows directly into local creeks and the Monterey Bay.
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Here is where you can find information on what the City does to reduce pollution to the storm drains and creeks, and how you can help:
|Storm Water Management Plan|
|Pharmaceuticals and Sharps Disposal|
Urban runoff and other “non-point source” discharges are regulated by the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The City of Santa Cruz (City) developed a Storm Water Management Program (SWMP) in order to fulfill the requirements of the Phase II NPDES General Permit for Discharges of Storm Water from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) (General Permit) and to reduce the amount of pollutants discharged in urban runoff. The City’s program is based on the requirements and guidelines of the General Permit.
The City's SWMP is a comprehensive program that is designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable (MEP) and encompasses best practices for the following operational areas:
- Municipal Operations/Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Public Participation
- Public Education
- Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control
- Post Construction Storm Water Management
- Industrial Facilities
- Commercial Facilities
In February 2013, the State Water Board reissued the Phase II Storm Water General Permit and required the submittal of a Guidance Document for coverage under the new permit. As part of the General Permit, the City also prepares annual reports detailing activities conducted throughout the year to minimize stormwater impacts. The City's SWMP, Guidance Document, and annual reports are available here: Storm Water Management Plan
Measure E established a Clean River, Beaches and Ocean Special Parcel Tax that is collected from owners of taxable property parcels in the City of Santa Cruz. Measure E was placed on the November 4, 2008 ballot by the Santa Cruz City Council to create a dedicated source of funding to pay for water quality programs that prevent pollution from reaching our waterways, beaches and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Funds are used to support several projects and activities, including:
- Cleaning, maintaining and improving our storm water collection systems to help keep trash and pollutants out of our waterways and beaches;
- Meeting state and federal water quality requirements, thereby avoiding fines and penalties;
- Enforcing new state rules to prevent pollution, including erosion, from construction projects and new developments;
Providing education and outreach activities to teach children, residents, businesses and visitors why and how to prevent water pollution;
- Implementing programs to reduce pollution from homes, streets, businesses and industry, such as the Green Business Certification program;
Monitoring water quality in our creeks and the San Lorenzo River for compliance with State standards.
The City manages two environmental certification programs: the Clean Ocean Business Program and the Green Business Program.
The Clean Ocean Business Program recognizes vehicle service and food service facilities that follow best environmental practices to keep pollutants out of the storm drains and sewer system, thus helping to protect our waterways and the ocean.
The Green Business Program recognizes businesses that go the extra mile to reduce their carbon footprint, prevent pollution and conserve resources by:
- Reducing water consumption,
- Retrofitting lights and equipment to conserve energy,
- Minimizing waste and recycling,
- Implementing practices that reduce pollution and protect worker health.
There are many opportunities offered by our partner groups and organizations to learn more about our waterways and get involved in monitoring and clean-up events.
Adopt-A-Levee Program - The City and Save Our Shores (SOS) have partnered to launch a volunteer-based “Adopt-A-Levee Program” to help keep the San Lorenzo River clean and healthy. Through the Adopt-A-Levee Program, a community group or local business can “adopt” a specific section of the river levee between Highway 1 and the San Lorenzo River mouth.
San Lorenzo River Alliance - The San Lorenzo River Alliance is a Santa Cruz County-wide coalition focused on revitalizing the health of the San Lorenzo River and transforming this critical natural resource into a safe and welcoming community destination.
Snapshot Day - Snapshot Day is an annual, water quality monitoring event held on the first Saturday in May. Since 2000, this event has been providing a one-day “Snapshot” of the health of the rivers and streams that flow into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS).
Coastal Cleanup Day - Join Save Our Shores and more than 60,000 Californians as we clean our state’s beaches and waterways!
Beach and River Cleanups - Monthly beach cleanups are a fun, free, easy way to give back to your community by keeping pollution from entering the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
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