Stormwater

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Reporting Pollution - STORMWATER HOTLINE: 877-627-2001
To report an activity / incident involving pollution (oil, wastewater, litter, sediment, or any unknown material) entering the gutter or storm drain inlet, please call the hotline at 877-627-2001 ASAP and be ready to provide your contact information, date of the incident / activity, address, or location of the activity, and a description of the pollution activity you are reporting.

Minimizing Pollution
Timely reliable information is necessary to predict the timing and location where dumped materials will re-emerge which provides an opportunity to apprehend the materials (and/or suspects) and thereby minimize the extent to which pollution of the storm drain inlets affects aquatic ecosystems in Pudding Creek, Noyo River, coastal wetlands, and the Pacific Ocean.

What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is a term used to describe water that originates during precipitation events. The part of the stormwater that cannot soak into the ground becomes "stormwater runoff." The more earth that is covered by impervious surfaces like asphalt, or rooftops, the less stormwater can infiltrate the earth to recharge groundwater and maintain summer stream-flows. Cities with lots of houses, roads, and buildings generate more stormwater runoff than wild lands with abundant soil and vegetation. Stormwater runoff washes oil and grease, litter, cigarette butts, lawn and garden chemicals, dirt, and bacteria from sidewalks and roads and carries it to storm drain inlets throughout the city.

The cleaner and greener the city, the milder and cleaner the runoff. Storm drains under the city are like invisible tributaries that join together into increasingly larger pipes that release stormwater runoff into native waterways including streams, rivers, and, eventually, the ocean. We can improve the quality of stormwater runoff and the health of our rivers and ocean by repairing oil leaks on our cars, walking, running, or biking around town, recycling, minimizing chemicals we put out onto the street, and utilizing trash cans to dispose of litter.

Plastic Snack Wrappings
Plastic snack wrappings are a major ocean pollutant found in stormwater runoff from the mainlands. This plastic is accumulating in giant floating rafts in the ocean. Some forms of plastic may trap or choke animals. As some of this plastic degrades into tiny pieces, fish ingest them as if they were food without providing nutrition.

Stormwater Concerns
Stormwater is of concern for two main issues: one related to the volume and timing of runoff water (flood control and water supplies) and the other related to potential contaminants that the water is carrying, i.e. water pollution.

First Flush
First flush is the initial surface runoff of a rainstorm. During this phase, water pollution entering storm drains in areas with high proportions of impervious surfaces is typically more concentrated compared to the remainder of the storm. Consequently these high concentrations of urban runoff result in high levels of pollutants discharged from storm sewers to surface waters.