StormWater Pollution Prevention

When rain flows over streets and other surfaces, it picks up pollutants and carries them into the stormwater conveyance ("storm drain") system.

Did you know that storm drains are not connected to sanitary sewer systems and treatment plants?

The storm drain system is designed to prevent flooding by transporting water away from developed areas. However, this water is not filtered or treated, and all the contaminants it contains eventually flows into creeks, lakes, and the ocean where people swim and fish. Once there, polluted runoff can harm wildlife and habitats. In some cases, it can even cause beach closures or make fish and shellfish unsafe to eat.

This program is part of a statewide effort to protect natural water bodies from pollution. This program is regulated by the state via the State Water Resources Control Board.

The water that drains down a sink or toilet in a home or business flows to the sanitary sewer and is treated by the City of San Diego at a wastewater treatment plant. The storm drain system, on the other hand, is designed to carry rainwater from city streets and driveways to prevent flooding. This water does not receive any treatment. It flows directly to creeks and rivers, terminating at the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, as rainfall flows over the ground, it picks up debris and pollutants and deposits them into our watersheds. To protect natural resources, the prevention of pollution running into the storm drain system is imperative.

Why We Clean Water
Clean water is essential for every aspect of life. In addition to sustaining local water resources, it ensures economic growth and prosperity. Population growth has impacted water quality and placed increasing pressure on supplies. Controlling pollution is critical to preserving aquatic resources and the economic viability of the region.

Easy Steps to Clean Water
  • Sweep or rake
    • Conserve water. Do not use a hose to wash off sidewalks, driveways, and patios. Sweep up debris and put it in a trash can. Rake up yard waste to compost or recycle.
  • Reduce the use of landscape chemicals
    • Decrease the use of lawn and garden care products such as pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers. Consider using non-toxic pest control methods. Avoid over-watering, which may wash these products into the gutter and storm drains.
  • Buy non-toxic products
    • When possible, use non-toxic products for household cleaning. If you must use a toxic product, buy small quantities, use it sparingly and properly dispose of unused portions. Unwanted household toxic products should be disposed of at the Poway Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.
  • Recycle used motor oil and earn money
    • Certified used oil collection centers will pay a few cents per gallon for used oil. Collect used oil in sealed containers and take it to one of the certified used oil collection centers in Poway.
  • Dispose of yard waste frequently
    • By disposing of grass, leaves, shrubs, and other organic matter more frequently, less will wash into storm drains. Recycle or compost your yard waste.
  • Clean up after your pets
    • Take a bag when you walk your pets and always clean up after them. Flush pet waste down the toilet or dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag and throw it in the trash.
  • Care for your vehicles
    • Change your oil routinely and fix fluid leaks immediately. Keep your vehicles tuned up. If possible, take your car to a car wash, or if washing it at home, wash your car on an unpaved area such as lawn or gravel. Use very little soap, and pour remaining soapy water into an indoor sink or toilet. Conserve water by using a shutoff nozzle.
  • While you or your contractor are doing home remodeling project:
    • Keep all construction debris away from the street and storm drain.
    • Never dispose washout into the street or storm drain.
For more information on how you can prevent the pollution of our creeks, rivers, lakes, and ocean, visit Project Clean Water's website.

Illegal Dumping
To report illegal dumping of automotive fluids and other substances into storm drains, please call Poway Code Enforcement at 858-668-4668 during city business hours or contact the Poway Sheriff's Station at 858-513-2800 after regular business hours and on weekends.

The City of Poway provides a limited number of environmental education presentations for students (elementary through high school) as well as children's and adult's civic and community groups. For more information on scheduling a presentation, please call 858-668-4707.