COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Storm Water

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Report Spills, Illegal Dumping, and Sewer Back-ups

Where to report spills, dumping incidents and back-ups


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. Click here for information on Flood Insurance Premium Reduction

Storm water entering drains flows directly into local creeks and Monterey Bay without being treated. 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

Best Management Practices

 Storm Water Annual Reports

Storm Water Requirements for Development

 Storm Water Management Utility  

Business Certification Programs 

 Clean River, Beaches and Ocean Fund  

Retail and Commercial Pollution Prevention  

 Residential Information

Vehicle Service Pollution Prevention

 Integrated Pest Management

Food Service Pollution Prevention

 Other Related Information and Programs

Pharmaceuticals and Sharps Disposal

 San Lorenzo River Watershed TMDL Reports



Storm Water Management Plan

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 ControlO3-DO104_photo2
  • 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


Clean River, Beaches and Ocean Fund (Measure E) Implementation

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. 

 Click here for an overview of the Measure E fund expense for Fiscal Year 2014-2015


Business Certification Programs

The City manages two environmental certification programs: the Clean Ocean Business Program and the Green Business Program. Clean Ocean Logo

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: GreenBizLogo.3_web

  • Reducing water consumption,
  • Retrofitting lights and equipment to conserve energy,
  • Minimizing waste and recycling,
  • Implementing practices that reduce pollution and protect worker health.


Get Involved!

City Calendar of Events

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.


Other Related Information and Programs

Cigarette Butt "Bait Tank" Rebate Program:

Tired of all those cigarette butts around your business? bait tank
Here’s a way to tackle that problem and help keep our waterways clean! The City of Santa Cruz is offering a new and exciting rebate program for cigarette butt containers called “Bait Tanks.”
Bait Tanks are eye catching metal containers that can hold up to 2,000 cigarette butts each. In order to reduce water pollution caused by discarded cigarette butts, the City is offering a $200 or $250 rebate to businesses that want to buy, install and maintain a cigarette butt container on their property. In addition to helping keep our environment clean, having a Bait Tank will save you clean up time and show your customers that you care!
For More Information, please contact:
Suzanne Healy, City of Santa Cruz
Department of Public Works

Benefit or Charity Car Wash Events

Charity Car Wash Volunteer Waiver and Release Agreement 


Pet Waste

Learn how dog doo affects the bay and other water ways. Please pick up after your dog! (video on YouTube)


Have an RV? Find Out Where to Dump Your Tanks:

Click on the RV and find RV dump stations:        RV


For more information on the City's Storm Water Management Program, please contact:

Suzanne Healy at (831) 420-5131 or



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