Storm Water

Our City has two drainage systems, one for waste water (sanitary sewer) and the other for storm water. The storm drain system was designed to prevent flooding by carrying rain water away from City streets directly to the ocean and/or surface water bodies and courses. Because the system has no filters, it now serves the unintended function of transporting urban pollution straight to the waterways and to the ocean.


Each day, millions of gallons of polluted urban runoff enter our waterways and the ocean untreated, leaving toxic chemicals in our surf or polluted recreational areas, and tons of trash on our beaches. Overall, storm water pollution costs the Los Angeles economy many millions of dollars each year in clean up and lost recreation.

To ensure the safety and enjoyment of our environment, we need to keep our storm drains free from pollutants. The City has devised a program in response to the Federal Clean Water Act and local and state regulation that can help all of us to prevent pollution to our water ways and ocean.

Urban Pollutants

Urban pollutants that are source to storm water pollution include:

  • Construction debris
  • Excessively applied pesticides and fertilizers
  • Grease from restaurants
  • Illegally dumped motor oil and other automotive fluids
  • Litter and trash
  • Paint
  • Pet wastes
  • Yard wastes

Many of these are from common household or business activities that can be easily controlled. For instance, blowing grass clippings into the street instead of home composting can create storm water pollution. Or, if an auto repair shop is careless with automotive fluids, and allows outdoor deposition, such chemicals may easily be washed into our waterways by rain. The measures to control such pollution are what we call best management practices or BMPs.

Implementation of BMPs is the backbone of our municipal storm water management program and is required by the City storm water management permit.

Storm Water Management Regulations

The City’s storm water program is predicated on its storm water ordinance. This ordinance identifies the responsibilities of businesses and residents to maintain storm water quality. It also provides the legal authority of the City to carry out its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act.

For more information, contact the Public Works Department at 909-839-7040. In addition, City maintains booklets and instructions on BMPs, construction, treatment and detention, and other activities designed to prevent storm water pollution.