Frequently Asked Questions and Resources
- What is a watershed and why should I care?
A watershed carries water "shed" from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea. Water is a universal solvent, affected by all that it comes in contact with: the land it traverses, and the soils through which it travels. Simply stated, a watershed is an area of land that drains into a common water body, such as a river, lake, or the ocean.
- How can I help?
Good housekeeping practices like sweeping up litter, picking up pet waste, recycling, composting; education; treatment practices; practices to control or prevent runoff, spills or leaks; water conservation; erosion control; and proper disposal of wastes and leftover materials.
- How can I report suspected illegal discharges or other stormwater violations?
To report stormwater pollution, call 1-888-846-0800 or visit our Project Clean Water site.
- Who do I call to report a clogged or damaged storm drain?
Call Our Toll-Free Hotline: 1-877-684-8000
- Where can I pick-up sandbags to prepare for the rainy season?
Locations to pick-up sand bags in the unincorporated county: http://www.countynewscenter.com/news/county-giving-free-sand-and-bags-residents-ahead-rains
- Where can I obtain information about rain barrels?
Please find the attached links for information on rainwater harvesting barrels. There are rebates available for barrels through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). http://socalwatersmart.com/index.php/qualifyingproducts/rain-barrels.
For our list of resources and retailers in San Diego County, click the following link: RB_Retailers_September_2015
- Where can I obtain information about turf replacement and rebates?
County of San Diego Water Authority WaterSmart Program: http://turfreplacement.watersmartsd.org/
Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program: http://www.surfrider.org/programs/entry/ocean-friendly-gardens#program-intro
Metropolitan Water District: http://socalwatersmart.com/index.php/home/?p=res
- Where do I take my paints, automobile fluids, and household hazardous waste for recycling?
Our database lists recycling centers and contacts throughout San Diego County. http://www.wastefreesd.org
You can also contact the Recycling Hot Line at: 1-877-R1EARTH
- Who do I speak with about building plan questions?
- How do I obtain a grading permit?
- Where do I report a housing, noise, and grading complaint?
Housing complaints: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/deh/fhd/housing/housingcomplaints.html
Noise complaints: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/pds/ce5/EastNorthCo.html
Grading complaints: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/pds/ce5/
- What is an MS4?
MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System and is basically the storm drain system that is owned and operated by a local municipality. An MS4 discharges to local water bodies such as creek, rivers, streams, lakes or reservoirs, is designated or used for collecting or conveying stormwater, is not a combined sewer, and is not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works to treat wastewater.
- What is the MS4 Permit?
The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit is a regulatory tool used by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to regulate stormwater and non-stormwater discharges into MS4s and from MS4s into local water bodies.
The MS4 Permit defines the regulatory obligations that agencies must meet to remain in compliance with the permit and avoid enforcement actions. MS4 Permits are issued to municipalities as owners of the MS4 and are renewed approximately every five years.
- What is the goal of the Permit and standards to achieve this goal?
The overarching goal of the Permit is to protect water quality and designated beneficial uses of local water bodies from adverse impacts caused or contributed to by discharges from MS4s (Order R9-2013-0001). Copermittees (i.e., agencies regulated by the MS4 Permit) are required to implement water quality improvement strategies and runoff management programs to meet two standards:
i. Non-stormwater discharges will be effectively prohibited from entering the MS4, and
ii. Pollutants in stormwater will be reduced to the maximum extent practicable (MEP).
- What are the municipalities’ responsibilities under the MS4 Permit?
The primary responsibility that municipalities have to comply with the MS4 Permit is to reduce or eliminate the pollutants entering and leaving their storm drain systems so the discharges do not contribute to pollution of receiving waters.
This is accomplished through management of three main areas: land use planning (including new development and redevelopment); construction; and existing development (including municipal, industrial, commercial, and residential areas and activities). The approaches used to regulate these sectors have been developed by individual jurisdictions over the past 15-20 years of regulation under MS4 Permits and are described in the agencies’ Jurisdictional Runoff Management Plans (JRMPs).
- Where can I find information on gray water?
Additional information regarding gray water and onsite wastewater systems is available on the DEH website at http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/deh/lwqd/lu_graywater_systems.html. DEH is currently in the process of developing new guidelines for the use of gray water to address the revisions to the CPC and will post these when available. You can also call one of the following Land and Water Quality Division offices.
- San Marcos 760-471-0730
- San Diego 858-565-5173
In addition to developing plans, guidelines and ordinances Watershed staff works collaboratively with other County departments and other agencies to ensure water quality is protected. You can read more about these departments and agencies in the resources provided.
- County of San Diego's Stormwater Regulations, Reports, and Plans
- Guidance Handbook To Reduce Water Pollution
- County Planning and Development Services
- County Department of Environmental Health
- Project Clean Water
- California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA)
- Pollutant Impacts on Water Quality (Summary)
- Industrial General Permit
- San Diego County Wastewater Agencies
- California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
- County Water Authority and Member Agencies