The City of San Diego operates a storm drain system that protects homes, businesses and institutions against flooding. When it rains, the system carries water off our streets and out to our rivers, creeks, bays and the ocean. None of this water is treated. It flows directly into our waterways, making pollution prevention a top priority for the City.
The permit governing operation of the storm drain system, including the streets, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, storm drain inlets and other facilities it includes, prohibits anything but storm water – water from rain - from entering the system. That permit is issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and requires the City to adopt and implement an ordinance providing the City with the authority to require best management practices to prevent discharges of pollutants into the storm drain system and to enforce against any illegal discharges of non-storm water and/or pollutants into the storm drain system. The City has included that ordinance as part of the Municipal Code, and it gives the City the necessary tools required to protect our local waterways and beaches from pollutants.
The Transportation and Storm Water Department’s Code Enforcement and Inspection teams respond to complaints of illicit discharges (Municipal Code 43.0302), carry out proactive patrols of residential properties and inspect businesses to ensure compliance with the Permit and Municipal Code. All residents, business owners, employees, and visitors must comply with the storm water sections of the Code in order to help keep our beaches and waterways clean.
The Storm Water Code Enforcement team works closely with the Public Utilities’ Water Conservation team to prevent pollution and stop water waste. For more information about water conservation, visit their website.
The City’s Permit and Code require escalating enforcement when illegal discharges occur. This means that if a resident, business owner, or property owner illegally discharges into the storm drain system, enforcement actions against them will increase in severity with each incident. The severity of the enforcement action is based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the type of substance discharged, the volume of discharge, and its proximity to waterways. Enforcement actions can include a warning letter, Notice of Violation, Administrative Citation, Civil Penalty, or criminal prosecution. Administrative Citations range from $100 to $1,000, and Civil Penalties can reach up to $10,000 per day per violation.
If you have received a Notice of Violation or other enforcement notice from the City of San Diego’s Storm Water Division, please contact the Code Enforcement Officer or Inspector assigned to your case for more information.
We need your help to protect water quality. If you see anything other than water from a rain event in the curb, gutter, alley or street, please let us know. Some examples include but are not limited to: irrigation water runoff, oil, grease, swimming pool and spa water, construction waste (including sediment), landscaping waste, wash water, and power washing waste water. All of these discharges pose a threat to the health of local waterways. Only rain is allowed down the drain.
There are several ways to report a storm water pollution concern. You can email your report to [email protected]. You may call our Storm Water Pollution Hotline at 619-235-1000, or you can use the Get it Done App. If you notice a violation actively occurring during business hours, calling the hotline will ensure the issue are addressed in the quickest way possible.
When reporting a storm water violation, please provide photos if possible and a detailed description including the time, location, type of substance, and when the violation occurred. This will help the City’s Code Enforcement officers perform quick and thorough investigations. Please also include your contact information so that a Code Enforcement Officer can get in touch with you should they need further information about the violation.
To report other water waste that does not reach the storm drain, such as over irrigation to sidewalks or driveways, please call the City's Public Utilities Department at 619-533-5271 or email the information to [email protected]. For more information about water conservation, visit the Public Utilities website.
Minimum best management practices (BMP) are activities and structures that help prevent illegal discharges and work to prevent potential pollutants from entering the storm drain system. These BMPs are outlined in the document below and are organized by Residential, Commercial/Industrial, and Municipal properties. These are the minimum requirements to prevent pollution from entering the storm drain system. Additional BMPs may be required to achieve compliance with the Permit and Municipal Code regulations.
The Storm Water Division has created a series of fact sheets to help residents, businesses, and those working in San Diego to better understand the minimum best management practices and how to implement them. English and Spanish versions are available below. Fact sheets in additional languages are available upon request.