Water Quality and Our Storm Drain System

The City’s  storm drain system were designed to prevent floods and only rain water should flow through them. However, when water flows out of our yards, down driveways, out parking lots and into the storm drains, it makes its way through the environment, untreated. Storm drains are not connected to the sewer system; instead they drain directly into our waterways. In Watsonville our storm drains lead to our local wetlands, creeks and the Pajaro River, which eventually enter the Monterey Bay and wash onto our beaches.

Year-round water use in our town and rainstorms that falls on streets, parking areas, sports fields, gravel lots, rooftops or other developed land pick up contaminants from the ground, such as:

  • Oil, grease, metals and coolants from vehicles;
  • Fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals from gardens and homes;
  • Bacteria from pet wastes and failing septic systems;
  • Soil from construction sites and other bare ground;
  • Soaps from car or equipment washing; and
  • Accidental spills, leaky storage containers, tobacco spit and whatever else ends up on the ground.

These contaminants create an imbalance in our water ways that may not be immediately realized, but the eventual effect can be devastating. Storm drain pollution hurts our recreational areas, waterways and wildlife. It can also force the closure of popular beaches and other water bodies due to public health threats affecting tourism and our economy.

Storm Drain Pollution Prevention

The City of Watsonville strives to inform our residents, businesses and new developers of the effects of storm water pollution and the best practices to prevent it. Dedicated Public Works staff is always exploring ways to promote the health and safety of our residents by guiding, regulating, and controlling the quality of storm water runoff.

 How do we do it?

  • We educate our local youth and their families through our school program, community presentations, our newsletter, events, at our Nature Center and through media campaigns.
  • We host and support Community Litter Clean-up events to pick up litter on our streets, beaches, river, trails and wetlands all year long.
  • We inform business of the regulations they must follow to prevent pollution runoff and hold them accountable for their actions.
  • We clean miles and miles of residential and heavily used streets with our street sweeper removing litter that could otherwise harm the environment.
  • We clean up homeless encampments and maintain our trails and river levee litter-free to help prevent water contamination on our local waterways.
  • We repair and maintain the storm water collection system including grates, manhole lids, outfalls into local creeks, and flood prevention flap gates.
  • We maintain 2000 storm drain inlets, 50 miles of storm water pipeline, and 15 storm water pumps located along Corralitos Creek and the Pajaro River.
  • We maintain the sewer system.
  • We respond to reported spills, sewer overflows and illicit discharges.
  • We monitor and constantly test our waterways and report our findings to the Water Control Board.

How can you help keep our waterways safe and clean? 

  1. Never dump anything down storm drains, gutters or waterways.
  2. Avoid or reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Remember that what you put on your yard eventually finds its way into our local waterways. Consider organic gardening practices when possible. Learn about alternatives to toxic pesticides on your garden www.ourwaterourworld.org/
  3. Remove part or all of your lawn; replace it with native, drought-resistant plants. Add compost to planting soil and dress it with mulch to improve plant growth and reduce storm water runoff.
  4. Keep your property landscaped and avoid having areas with bare soil to prevent runoff.
  5. Sign up for a free yard waste bin or start using a compost bin to dispose of your leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste as they can clog storm drains.
  6. Take unwanted hazardous waste, like paint, toxic household products and other chemicals to the City’s  Waste and Recycling Drop-off .
  7. Rinse paint brushes in the sink when using water-based paint. Avoid oil-based paint.
  8. Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
  9. Check and fix car leaks and recycle your used  motor oil.
  10. Pick up after your pet and dispose of it in the trash can. Pet waste is responsible for over 40% of the fecal contamination polluting our waterways.

To learn more about what you can do, please visit http://water.epa.gov/action/weatherchannel/stormwater.cfm

For questions or to report a concern regarding our stormwater system, call Customer Service at 831-768-3133 or email us at publicworks@cityofwatsonville.org



Storm Water Video




If you are having a problem with your sewer and you believe that the problem may be with a City maintained sewer main, please call the Customer Service Division at 768-3133 and a technician will be sent out to help investigate the problem. If you need to reach someone after hours, please call Police Dispatch (the non police emergency number) at 471-1151 and a technician will be sent out. If the technician determines that the blockage is in the City maintained sewer main, a crew will be sent out to fix the problem.

If the problem is with your sewer lateral which extends from your building all the way to the point of connection with the City maintained sewer line (usually located in the middle of the street), it is the property owner’s responsibility to hire a plumber to correct the problem. Please note: If you are experiencing a problem only in a portion of your building and not in the entire building, you should call a plumber.

Sewer Rates