Stormwater Quality Management
What is Stormwater Runoff?
Runoff is generated when water flows over pervious and impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, building rooftops, lawns, etc.) and does not percolate into the ground. As cities grow and people move into new areas, we create more opportunity for runoff to be generated. Stormwater runoff is runoff associated with rainstorms, snowmelt and surface water drainage. Non-stormwater runoff is any runoff not entirely comprised of stormwater. Common sources of non-stormwater runoff are commercial and industrial wash water, sidewalk rinsing/cleaning, landscape irrigation and construction site discharges. Stormwater and non-stormwater runoff are often collectively referred to as stormwater pollution.
The City of Ventura is nestled between the Ventura River watershed, Santa Clara River watershed and the Pacific Ocean. The stormwater quality program works to preserve these waterways for the enjoyment by our residents, visitors and future generations to come. The program works to integrate water quality benefits into all City operations. The City's storm drain system drains to local creeks, rivers and the ocean; all materials dumped, discharged or deposited in backyards, driveways, parking lots and City streets eventually ends up in these waters, untreated. Working with our community is essential in order to ensure local water quality continues to provide recreational opportunities as well as support wildlife.
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is the total area of land from which runoff drains into streams, rivers and other bodies of water. Watersheds take many shapes and sizes, but all have one thing in common - they act as a drainage basin or catchment area that empty into a single body of water. The City of Ventura is located in three separate watersheds: the Ventura River Watershed, Santa Clara River Watershed and Ventura Coastal Watershed. Our local watersheds’ are beautiful and something to preserve. It is the responsibility of the community to keep our watersheds healthy and clean for generations to come.
What is Stormwater Pollution?
As stormwater and non-stormwater runoff flow over landscapes and impervious surfaces, it accumulates pollutants such as debris, chemicals, sediment and bacteria that can adversely affect water quality. This runoff flows through local creeks, rivers and lakes - eventually draining, untreated, into the ocean. Items like cigarette butts, pet waste, leaves, grass, oil, fast food wrappers, etc. belong in trash or yard waste bins, NOT in our local watersheds.
Many of our daily activities have the potential to cause stormwater pollution. Car washing detergents, lawn/garden fertilizers and pesticides, pool/spa chemicals, oil, gasoline, paint products and many more such items are potentially hazardous and life threatening to plant life, people and animals. These harmful products were never intended to be disposed of in creeks, streams, rivers and the ocean. The "Don't Dump, Drains to Ocean" postings are a continual reminder that we all need to be concerned about stormwater. The majority of harmful impacts caused by pollution can be reduced or eliminated altogether.
The best way to protect our waterways and keep them clean and pollution free is by following best management practices (BMPs). BMPs can be implemented at home and work. Most large stormwater discharges are heavily regulated and require coverage under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City of Ventura is a Permittee under the Ventura County Municipal NPDES Stormwater Permit and is required to implement programmatic BMPs to reduce pollutants coming from City limits.
Stormwater runoff picks up materials/pollutants on streets, driveways, parking lots and backyards and deposit them into our local waterbodies untreated. These harmful pollutants (metals, grease, oils, fertilizers, soaps, etc.) can cause serious damage to our local streams, creeks, rivers, estuaries and the ocean. In addition, stormwater runoff can be a human health risk when people are swimming in polluted waters. Stormwater pollution is one of the biggest leading threats to water quality in urban and developing areas. As more areas are urbanized in watersheds, the potential for runoff to contain harmful pollutants also increases.
The City implements several programs aimed at reducing and eliminating stormwater pollution impacts. These programs vary from public outreach and education to business and commercial inspections. All stormwater programs share a common goal of improving, protecting and preserving local watersheds for the enjoyment of current and future generations. On a daily basis the City removes trash and debris from city streets and storm drain, inspects local businesses for pollution control measures, and works with construction sites to mitigate discharges of sediment and pollutants to the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). Additional projects and programs include the completion of the Hartman Drive Green Street pilot project, residential parkway bioswale program and monthly household hazardous waste collection program.
For over 20 years the City has been working with partner agencies on stormwater management. City of Ventura helped establish the Ventura County Community for a Clean Watershed program to help residents understand how to respect and protect our local watersheds. The City is also a member of the Ventura Countywide Stormwater Quality Management Program that works to improve stormwater quality, monitoring the health of our watersheds and meet compliance requirements of the Ventura Countywide Stormwater Permit.
Things You Can Do for Our Watershed
The Ventura County Community for a Clean Watersheds as well as Ventura Countywide Stormwater Quality Management Program website contain publications, watershed protection tips, teaching materials and brochures for businesses and residents that focus on pollution reduction. These websites contain great information for to all age groups on how to protect and enhance our local environments. Check out 10 quick and easy ways to protect our watersheds here.
Want to get involved? Check out upcoming community and volunteer events, including cleanup events! Or you can organize your own small group cleanup or self-led cleanup. View the Litter and Trash Prevention Toolkit and learn how to plan your own successful cleanup. Contact sustainability via email for cleanup supplies, including gloves and trash bags.