Pollution Prevention

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

  • Washing cars
  • Over-watering lawns
  • Washing out paint brushes
  • Oil or gas leaks from vehicles
  • Unsafe disposal of chemicals, detergents, fertilizers, grease, pesticides
  • Leaking or failing septic systems
  • Hosing or sweeping soils and plant debris into the gutter
  • Illegal cross‐connections of downspouts to the sanitary sewer system

  • Unsafe polluted drinking water
  • Bacteria in the ocean and streams
    • - may enter the body when swimming
    • - may contaminate fish
  • Plant material, sewage, and some chemicals starve water of oxygen, choking aquatic and marine life
  • Unsightly litter (transported by storm water) on our beaches and in our waterways
  • Sediments from water blasting, concreting, and earth work operations can affect water clarity and harm aquatic life

  • Do not connect downspouts to sanitary sewer (excess stormwater can overload the sanitrary sewer systems)
  • Wash your car on the lawn
  • Soak up or sweep any spills or debris around your home (do not rinse down the drain)
  • Store chemicals in a safe place
  • Dispose of unwanted paint, oil, or other substance responsibly through the County Household Hazardous Waste Division (HHW)
  • Ensure your vehicle does not leak
  • Recycle used motor oil and antifreeze
  • Use semi-pervious surfaces (such as porous pavement or pervious pavers) where feasilbe instead of imperviuos asphalt or concrete
  • Use fertilizers sparingly
  • Maintain and fix your septic system as necessary

What is the NPDES program?

The NPDES permit program addresses water pollution by regulating point sources (discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches) that discharge pollutants to the waters of the United States. An NPDES permit contains: limits on what can be discharged, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not harm water quality or people's health.

The NPDES program is a federal program, authorized by the 1972 Clean Water Act, which has been delegated to the State of California for implementation through the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards), collectively Water Boards. Per Chaper 7.79 of the County Code, Runoff and Pollution Control, the County is required to comply with Federal and State laws concerning stormwater. Santa Cruz County reports to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board under the NPDES General Permit (within these boundries). Please note, certain projects (such as industrial, construction projects that disturb one or more acre of soil, cannabis) may require additional permits through the State Water Resources Control Board.

Useful Links:

How does the County implement the NPDES program?

Program Management

Pollution prevention and stormwater management is implemented by numerous different departments within the County. The County continually reviews and updates relevant ordinances as necessary to meet the General Permit requirements.

Education, Outreach, and Public Involvement

Public education is a proactive and cost effective way of reducing pollutants. Therefore, the County organizes an annual Earth Day event, participates in media campaigns, provides workshops, and hosts volunteer clean up days. To find out more about how to prevent pollution, visit the Residential pollution preventation page or click on the links below for Business resources:

Illicit DIscharge Detection and Elimination

Illicit discharge is the release of anything other than stormwater into the storm drain system. Minimizing these discharges can help reduce pollutants from entering our streams and ocean. Please report any illicit discharges to the County with My Santa Cruz County or by calling Environmental Health at (831) 454-2022. If the illicit discharge is an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control Program

Controlling the amount of sediments and runoff from construction sites minimizes pollutants in our storm drain system. To find out more about how to control pollutants from construction sites, click on the following link: Erosion and Stormwater Pollution Control

Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for Permittee Operations Program

The County ensures that the municipal stormdrain facilities are routinely maintained.