Welcome to the City of Watsonville’s Storm Water Program

Watsonville’s  Storm Water program facilitates local compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.

The City’s storm drain system is 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.

See where your nearest storm drain goes to: Here’s a map of the stormdrains in Watsonville.

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.

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

Whether you run a business or just live, work and play in Watsonville, there’s something you can do to help keep our waterways clean and safe. Click below to learn about local, state and federal regulations that may apply to you:

Stormwater Reports

Industrial/Commercial Permits

Construction Site Permit

Municipal Permit


Public Education & Outreach


State Industrial Permit

The Industrial Storm Water General Permit Order 97-03-DWQ is an NPDES permit that regulates discharges associated with 10 broad categories of industrial activities. The General Industrial Permit requires the implementation of management measures that will achieve the performance standard of best available technology economically achievable (BAT) and best conventional pollutant control technology (BCT). The General Industrial Permit also requires the development of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and a monitoring plan. Through the SWPPP, sources of pollutants are to be identified and the means to manage the sources to reduce storm water pollution are described.

For more information or to apply for your permit, see the State Water Resources Control Board website.

Your Businesses Can Reduce Storm Water Pollution & Protect Our Waterways!

Construction Site Permit

 The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program requires construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb 1 acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under an NPDES permit for their stormwater discharges.

For more information or to apply for your permit, visit the EPA website.

Erosion Control Resources

In addition to NPDES program local City Ordinances require construction site stormwater management for smaller projects.  Construction site stormwater management is also known as erosion control. The following links provide resources for developers, architects and engineers as well as contractors.

Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is a leading stormwater management strategy that seeks to mitigate the impacts of runoff and stormwater pollution as close to its source as possible. Urban runoff discharged from municipal storm drain systems is one of the principal causes of water quality impacts in most urban areas. It can contain pollutants such as trash and debris, bacteria and viruses, oil and grease, sediments, nutrients, metals, and toxic chemicals that can negatively affect the ocean, rivers, plant and animal life, and public health.

LID comprises a set of site design approaches and best management practices (or BMPs) that are designed to address runoff and pollution at the source. These LID practices can effectively remove nutrients, bacteria, and metals while reducing the volume and intensity of stormwater flows.

The City of Watsonville’s LID ordinance became effective in February 27, 2014. The main purpose of the new regulations is to ensure that development and redevelopment projects manage their runoff at their construction location.  The new regulations which promote and encourage the use of low impact development are known as the city’s Post Construction Ordinance.


Encroachment/Engineering Permits required by the City’s Community Development Department best management practices on construction sites and post-construction sites. these measures are revise during the design phase and permitting phase and during post-construction inspections.

Learn How Your Construction Project Can Reduce Storm Water Pollution & Protect Our Waterways!

Public Education & Outreach

Storm Water 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. poop4
  • 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