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Water Conservation

The oceans contain 97% of earth's water, with the remaining 3% relied upon for all freshwater needs. Monterey County is isolated from state or federal water projects and relies exclusively on limited, local water resources. Monterey Peninsula residents and businesses have historically utilized water from the Carmel River and the Seaside Groundwater Basin. Thus, responsible water use is important whether the state is going through a drought period, or experiencing significant rain. The recommended usage for California residents is 55 gallons of water per day.

ocean conservation & litter prevention

Green-BoatingReduce marine debris impacts by preventing it from entering the environment in the first place. Marine debris is anything that ends up in the marine environment, whether directly or indirectly, intentionally or inadvertently, disposed of or abandoned. Living around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) has it's benefits, but also its responsibilities. Great conservation efforts happen locally around the Monterey Bay through a variety of organizations. Read on for more resources about how you can enjoy the environment as well as protect it. Common types of marine debris include (but are not limited to): cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles & caps, plastic bags, straws/stirrers, plastic take out containers, polystyrene, and derelict fishing gear. Minimizing marine debris and ocean pollution is everyone's responsibility. Secure loads in your vehicles, report litter, and most importantly, stop litter before it starts. The most effective way to keep litter off the beaches and roadways is not to generate it - say no to plastic bags, polystyrene, disposable food service ware, and other disposable products. When going to the beach, Pack It In and Pack It Out - take all your waste with you. 

Report lost fishing gear - both commercial and recreational. Lost fishing gear sits on the seafloor, gets caught on rocks and floats in the water column. It can remain in the marine environment for years, causing environmental harm and entangling fish, invertebrates, and mammals. Please report sightings of lost fishing gear to 1-888-491-GEAR or (anonymous reports accepted).

Ways to help maintain water quality:  

  • Conserve water. The more water you use the more water you send down the drain to be processed at sewage treatment facilities. This excess water can lead to sewer overflows and raw sewage discharges into streams, rivers and beach areas.
  • Use designated restrooms at beaches. This can help to decrease the amount of human waste that is washed into the ocean. Keep diapered children out of the water and dispose of diapers properly.
  • Properly dispose of pet waste. Bring bags to collect pet waste and throw it away in a trashcan. This helps decrease the amount of waste that is washed into streams, rivers and beaches when it rains.
  • Properly dispose of solid waste. Place all waste in the appropriate receptacle, or take it with you. Ensure cart lids are closed to prevent litter.
  • Properly dispose of boating waste. Empty portable toilet and sewage holding tanks into approved on-shore facilities. Maintain engines to minimize discharges of oil and gasoline. Dispose of flares properly, as they are explosive and hazardous. Avoid idling as much as possible.
  • Minimize use of herbicides, insecticides, or pesticides. Chemical herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides pollute water sources via runoff and groundwater seepage. Utilize companion planting or make your own pesticides from ingredients that won't harm pollinators.
  • Maintain your septic system, including the drain field. Follow manufacturer instructions regarding pumping and maintenance service. This prevents the discharge of raw sewage into storm drains, rivers, streams, and the ocean following heavy rainfall.
  • Reduce erosion. Planting native plants can stabilize the soil, reducing erosion and water sedimentation.
  • Maintain vehicles. Ensuring vehicles are properly maintained can reduce leakage of oil, coolant, antifreeze, and other liquids that can be carried via runoff to water sources.
  • Go to a car wash or use biodegradable, phosphate-free, water-based cleaners only. Commercial car washes are required to ensure wastewater is drained in a manner that protects water quality. Many car wash soaps on the market contain chemical pollutants that enter the environment via the wastewater. Using biodegradable soaps and washing cars on permeable (unpaved) surfaces can help prevent water pollution.Flows-to-Bay
For more information on water quality protection, visit the Stormwater Pollution and You page.

Landscaping best practices
Water insecurity is prevalent across the west. The Monterey Peninsula's water shortage is severe, and as such, Cal-Am and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water District have teamed up to offer a significant rebates to promote the installation of rain catchment systems. A water catchment system is saving normally wasted water and reusing it for irrigation or other non-potable (non-drinkable) uses. Catchment systems can be installed in various forms, from comprehensive gray water systems to simple rain barrels. Either way, these systems will save you money in the long term in the face of rising water costs in the Monterey area. To learn more about how you can capture rainwater and apply for rebates, visit or The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District website.

Sustainable landscaping is the practice of using multiple strategies to create an environmentally friendly and climate appropriate area. Landscaping and gardening affect water quality and biodiversity - both of which are critical to a properly functioning ecosystem. Environmental impacts stem from the vegetation planted, whether a lawn is present, irrigation methods, chemical use, and much more. Below are some tips to promote biodiversity and water conservation:
  • Use native plants: California native gardens are sustainable, save water, and provide habitat for pollinators. See a list of local tree and plant selections on the Urban Forestry page
  • Garden strategically: Companion planting is the practice of pairing certain plants together and can produce a greater yield, as well as reduce the need for pesticides. For example, planting lavender can repel mosquitos while keeping aphids away from nearby crops such as strawberries or cucumbers, and attract bees to help pollinate.
  • Help the bees: Over the last 75 years, bee populations have decreased over 50%. Plant blooming wildflowers, shrubs and trees to provide the nectar and pollen on which they feed. Do not use insecticides - insecticide exposure is a key cause of bee population decline. For more information, visit
  • Replace the lawn with xeriscaping: Xeriscaping is the practice of landscaping with slow-growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water and reduce yard trimmings. Lawns consume a lot of water - an estimated 40-60% of all landscape irrigation in CA - without providing benefits other plants do (e.g. pollinator habitat, biodiversity, food production).
  • Compost: Food and yard waste generally accounts for 23% of all waste that is dumped in landfills. Composting food scraps reduces waste, while bolstering soil health with additional nutrients. Composting helps maintain water quality by preventing pollutants from entering waterways because compost binds pollutants to organic material.
  • Rainwater collection barrels: Rainwater collection barrels can be traced back in origin at least 2000 years to clay cisterns in Thailand. Rain barrels capture water from a roof and hold it for later use, reducing the amount of water flowing from one's property. Collecting rainwater reduces the amount withdrawn from our aquifers and wells, helping to maintain aquifer integrity, while saving money. The average annual rainfall in Monterey is just over 21 inches, meaning 1,000 sf of impermeable surface (e.g. roof, driveway, etc.) could collect 13,000 gal/year of water.
  • Use an electric or manual lawn mower: Gas-powered lawn mowers are responsible for 5% of the nation’s air pollution according to the EPA. One hour operating a new gas lawn mower emits the same amount of air pollutants as driving a new car 45 miles. Every year Americans use 800 million gallons of gas to mow their lawns, 17 million of which ends up being spilled in the process of refueling mowers. An electric mower on the other hand, costs about $5 a year to operate. Even if it's powered by fossil fuels, the pollution generated by power plants is still cleaner. Even better are reel mowers, which require neither electricity nor gasoline.
  • Use solar lighting: Solar lighting does not use any human produced energy after manufacturing, which means there are no monthly costs to use it. This also means that there are no emissions resulting from its use.
For more information, visit CalRecycle's Sustainable Landscaping page.