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Stormwater Pollution and You

In the City of Monterey, storm drains flow directly to local creeks, estuaries and to Monterey Bay without treatment. Storm water pollution is a serious problem for wildlife dependent on our waterways and for the people who live near streams or the bay. Some common sources of this pollution include spilled oil, fuel, fluids from vehicles and heavy equipment, construction debris, landscaping runoff containing pesticides or weed killers, and materials such as used motor oil, antifreeze, and paint products that people pour into a street or storm drain. You, your friends and family all depend on healthy waterways and oceans. Remember this when you go to the beach, surf, swim in the ocean, go fishing, and eat local sea food.

Remember to clean up all spills when they happen! If building materials or other wastes get into a gutter, storm drain, or creek call the Public Works Department immediately. Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. call (831) 646-3920 for other hours call the 24-hour emergency service at (831) 646-3914.

Types of Pollution

Motor oil, pesticides, animal waste, automotive fluids, fertilizers, chemicals, and litter, all make their way into oceans every day.
  • One quart of motor oil dumped down a storm drain can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water. Oil from one engine (4-6) quarts can cause an 8 acre slick. Every year 350 million gallons of used motor oil is discarded in storm drains, waterways, and soil. This is 30 times greater than the Exxon Valdez oil spill!
  • Some wildlife get their water from polluted storm drains. Animals not only get sick from the water, but oil and gasoline stick to feathers and fur. When this happens, feathers and fur lose the ability to provide warmth for the animal.

Tips For Residents

Tips for Preventing Stormwater Pollution and Protecting Local Waterways/Wildlife
The Plans & Public Works Department is involved in educating local residents and businesses to prevent storm drain pollution and protect local water quality and wildlife. We hope you will join us in these efforts by using the below described practices.

Recycle used motor oil (for free) by taking it to an auto parts store, hazardous waste collection site or using curbside recycling pickup. When changing your car's oil, prevent spills by placing cardboard under the oil pan. Use absorbent material such as kitty litter to clean up spills. Never pour used motor oil down storm drains, on the ground, or driveways.

Wash cars on unpaved surfaces, or at a commercial car wash. Leftover soapy water should be poured down a household sink or toilet (to be treated by the sewage plant), not the driveway, gutter, street, or storm drain which lead directly to the bay without treatment.

Inspect and maintain your car regularly to prevent leakage of oil, antifreeze and other toxic fluids. Use a drip tray to catch leaks where your car is parked.

Keep as much of your property landscaped as possible. Planted areas absorb more rainwater and help water percolate into the ground. Bare soil promotes water runoff. As an alternate to concrete driveways, use paving bricks, which help reduce runoff.

Use non-toxic alternatives to pesticides and organic gardening techniques when possible. Plant native plants which need less water than imported varieties. Use herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Follow label instructions carefully. Do not apply chemicals if rain is forecast. Never dump chemicals in ditches, gutters, storm drains, or waterways. Never use motor oil to kill weeds along fences or in yards. Motor oil poured in soil contaminates water. Take unwanted toxic products to local hazardous waste collection sites.

Sweep driveways, patios, and sidewalks rather than hosing them down into the gutters and storm drains. Put lawn clippings in a compost pile or garbage can.

Water only your garden and lawn, not your driveways and sidewalks. Divert garden hoses and rain spouts away from paved surfaces to reduce water runoff from entering storm drains. Consider using a rain barrel to collect water for flower bed and lawn watering.

Pick up all pet waste regularly and dispose of in the trash can, not down the storm drain.

Recycle your car's antifreeze. Never drain antifreeze directly onto the ground or street. It is poisonous to pets and wildlife which are attracted to it's sweet smell and taste.

Take unwanted chemicals like paint and pesticides to your local hazardous waste collection site. Use non-toxic household products, if possible. When using toxic products follow directions carefully and use sparingly. Properly store toxic products away from children. Never dump chemicals down storm drains, ditches, gutters, or waterways.

Remember to clean up all spills when they happen If building materials or other wastes get into a gutter, storm drain, creek, lake, ,or ocean, call City Plans & Public Works Department immediately at (831) 646-3921 (Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). After hours, call 24-hour non-emergency service at (831) 646-3914. If an emergency, call 9-1-1.