Tips & Resources

Tips & Resources

How to Ensure Clean Water and Clean Beaches for All of San Diego

Many people think that when water flows into a storm drain it is treated, but the storm drain system and the sanitary sewer system are not connected. Everything that enters storm drains flows UNTREATED directly into our creeks, rivers, bays, beaches and, ultimately, the ocean. That stormwater often contains contaminants – including chemicals, trash and vehicle fluids – all of which pollute our beaches and harm fish and wildlife.

There are several actions that San Diegans and local businesses can take to prevent stormwater pollution. By keeping the tips and best practices below in mind, you can help reduce the pollution going into storm drains and ensure clean water and clean beaches for all of San Diego.

Tips for Residents

Stormwater pollution is the biggest threat to water quality in the San Diego region. Every San Diegan can do their part to reduce that pollution by implementing the following actions in their daily lives.

Child watering plants

  • Pesticides not only kill garden invaders, but they also poison fish and contaminate ocean water. Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides and don’t fertilize near ditches, gutters or storm drains.
  • Don’t dump household cleaners, paint products or motor oil on the ground – all paths lead to the ocean!
  • Wash your car at a commercial wash instead of in your driveway or alley.
  • Do not sweep leaves into the street or storm drain; instead, place yard clippings in appropriate waste containers.
  • Dispose of car oil and grease properly.
  • Clear your roof gutters of debris so water can flow smoothly.
  • Consider incorporating native plants into your landscaping to absorb excess rainwater.
  • Properly dispose of all pet waste.

View the top 10 ways you can reduce your contributions to stormwater pollution.

Tips for Businesses

Stormwater pollution is the biggest threat to water quality in the San Diego region. Every San Diego business can do its part to reduce that pollution by implementing the following actions as part of regular daily cleaning and maintenance routines.

  • Keep dumpsters in good condition with lids closed so that no contaminants leak out.
  • Take inventory of where your business stores, handles and disposes of chemicals, securing them to prevent accidental spills.
  • Hazardous waste materials should have secondary containment barriers in order to stop runoff.
  • Avoid hosing down dirty paved areas, such as around a dumpster. When necessary, seek non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning alternatives.
  • In larger areas, use a professional cleaning machine service, as they are required to dispose of wastewater at approved facilities.
  • Have a plan to clean up spills quickly and safely.
  • Post signs to remind employees of pollution prevention best practices.
  • Remember: Preventing pollution cuts costs, avoids expensive cleanups and may protect your business from fines!

View the top 10 ways you can reduce your contributions to stormwater pollution.

Staff Cleaning TrashStormwater Fact Sheets

The Importance of Stormwater Management

Stormwater infrastructure is important but often underappreciated because much of the equipment and facilities are located underground. Learn more about how that infrastructure is managed with the goal of reducing neighborhood flooding and pollution.

Best Management Practices to Reduce Pollution

Contain, Control, Capture

Follow the three C’s – contain, control and capture – to be proactive in stopping pollution. Utilize these best practices when you perform the following activities because it is much easier to prevent pollution than to clean it up once it has occurred.

Rebate Opportunities

Making Water-Saving Options More Affordable

There are several rebates available that incentivize San Diegans to take their own actions to stop water waste and reuse stormwater. Check out the offers below from the City of San Diego and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California.

  • PDF icon Downspout Redirects: Devices that redirect rainwater to a landscaped area that naturally filters runoff. Up to a $40 rebate per redirect.
  • Free Mulch: This reliable, cost-effective product can help with erosion control and water retention. Available for free at the Miramar Greenery.
  • PDF icon Graywater Systems: Using graywater is an excellent way to recycle and conserve thousands of gallons of water annually. Rebates range from $150 to $1,000.
  • PDF icon Rain Barrels: Used to capture rainwater from hard surfaces, such as rooftops, to conserve water for irrigation. Rebates of up to $400 per property.
  • PDF icon Rain Gutters: Captures rainwater from rooftops and diverts it to a rain barrel or landscaped area that naturally filters runoff. Rebates of up to $500 per property.
  • SoCal Water$mart: The MWD offers a variety of rebates for Southern California residents, including for turf replacement, weather-based irrigation control systems and more.”

Think Blue Community Partners

We All Think Blue

Think Blue San Diego is proud to partner with the following nonprofit organizations to help educate the public on the importance of the stormwater system and conduct cleanup activities throughout the region.

San Diego CoastkeeperSan Diego Coastkeeper

This advocacy group helps educate San Diego’s students about watersheds and wildlife, hosts beach cleanups year-round, and pushes for legislation to improve stormwater health.

I Love a Clean San DiegoI Love a Clean San Diego

Founded in 1954, this nonprofit aims to inspire San Diegans to actively conserve and enhance the environment through example, outreach and involvement.

Project Clean WaterPDF icon Project Clean Water

This organization recently challenged San Diegans to take the “PDF icon 52 Ways to Love Your Water” pledge and take small weekly actions to help protect our waterways.

San Diego River Park FoundationSan Diego River Park Foundation

Started by a group of concerned citizens 20 years ago, this foundation acts as a steward for the San Diego’s namesake river and is dedicated to making it a truly regional asset valued by all San Diegans.

Wildcoast LogoWildcoast

Dedicated to conserving coastal and marine ecosystems in the U.S. and Mexico by managing protected areas, advancing strong conservation policies and acting as a steward of healthy, thriving oceans, coastlines and wildlife.

Other Resources

What can San Diego residents do to preserve our water and beaches?


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