- County Storm Drain Pollution Reporting Page (for unincorporated areas of San Diego County)
- County Storm Drain Pollution Hotline: 1(888) 846-0800
- County Storm Drain Pollution E-mail: email@example.com
- Project Clean Water Reporting Tool (to locate your correct jurisdiction)
- County Watershed Rebates Program E-mail: Watershed.Rebates@sdcounty.ca.gov
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a watershed and why does it matter?
Simply stated, a watershed is an area of land that drains into a common water body, such as a river, lake, or the ocean. Water moving through a watershed picks up pollutants such as trash and bacteria and transports them into our waterways. Preventing pollutants from contaminating our water sources is important for everyone’s health and your actions can help protect our waterways.
How can I help?
Good housekeeping practices like sweeping up litter, picking up pet waste, and preventing irrigation runoff can help to keep pollutants out of our waterways. To learn about more ways you can help, visit our Residential and Industrial/Commercial pages.
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 creeks, 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).
The County's water quality improvement strategies and Jurisdiction Runoff Management Program are available online for review.
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).
What is an illicit discharge?
An illicit discharge is any discharge to the storm drain system (MS4) that is not entirely composed of stormwater.
How can I report suspected illicit discharges or other storm drain
To report storm drain pollution, call 1-888-846-0800 or visit Project Clean Water.
Who do I call to report a clogged or damaged storm drain?
Call our Toll-Free Hotline: 1-877-684-8000 or submit your concern online through DPW's Roads Service Request.
- Where do I report a housing, noise, and/or grading complaint?
Where can I...
Where can I pick up sandbags to prepare for the rainy season?
To find locations near you, visit: Sand Bag Locations in the Unincorporated County
For information on flooding and how to utilize sand bags, visit: ReadySanDiego.org
Where can I obtain information about rain barrels?
Please visit WPP's Rain Barrel Information page and be sure to subscribe to WPP's (stormwater) e-mail listserv to get notified when rain barrel sales events are announced.
Where can I obtain information about available rebates and incentives?
Check out the following websites to see what rebates and incentives you may qualify for:
- County Watershed Rebates Program: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/WatershedRebates
- County of San Diego Water Authority WaterSmart Program: https://www.watersmartsd.org/
- Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: https://socalwatersmart.com/
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. Find one near you by visiting: https://wastefreesd.org/
You can also contact the Recycling Hotline at: 1-877-R1EARTH
Where can I find information on gray water and gray water systems?
Additional information regarding gray water and onsite wastewater systems is available on the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) website for Gray Water Systems. You can also call the Land and Water Quality Division offices at 858-565-5173.
How do I locate my water district for more information on irrigation prohibitions?
Find your water district (member agency) to learn more about your district's irrigation prohibitions as well as the water conservation programs and incentives that are available.
Building and Grading Information
- Who do I speak with about building plan questions?
Do I need a construction permit?
Please review the Construction Permit educational handout for agencies you can contact regarding your specific project.
- How do I obtain a grading permit?
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.
- 2019 Best Management Practice Design Manual - The new 2019 manual has been posted! For land development and public improvement projects, this manual focuses on project design requirements and related post-construction requirements.
- Water Quality Improvement Plans - Submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board on September 29, 2015. These plans outline how the County will improve water quality in the region.
- Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program and Illegal Discharge Procedures - Submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board on June 26, 2015. This document provides information on ways the County will implement programs and strategies to reduce pollutants from entering the storm drain system.
- County of San Diego Watershed Protection Ordinance - Effective February 26, 2016. This ordinance provides regulatory information on stormwater management and water quality.
- State Water Resources Control Board's Industrial General Permit - Regulatory information and requirements for industrial facilities subject to the WRCB's IGP.
- State Water Resources Control Board's Construction General Permit - Regulatory information and requirements for projects that are subject to the WRCB's CGP.
- Project Clean Water - Find information on water quality and projects undertaken by all copermittees for the watersheds in Region 9.
- California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA) - See the latest information on how California is managing its water resources.
- California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) - Find additional information on construction site Best Management Practices (BMPs).
- Rain Barrel Information - Learn more about rain barrels and how to purchase one.
- San Diego Sustainable Landscape Design - Information on how to participate in the program and improve your landscaping.
- San Diego County Water Authority - News and information about water resources in the San Diego region.
- Member Agencies - Find your water agency as well as available programs and incentives for reducing water consumption.
- Related Departments
Awards and Achievements
Visit our Awards page to learn more about awards and achievements that the Watershed Protection Program has been recognized for.