Stormwater

Stormwater Quality
Stormwater Quality and Urban Runoff Program

The City of Huntington Beach is known throughout the nation as one the best places to live, work and play. Our 9.5 miles of beaches are highly valued recreational resources to our residents and millions of visitors each year.



Urban runoff, the water from our yards, driveways, and streets that flows through storm drains, is the greatest single source of pollution to our beaches and harbor. Unlike sewage, urban runoff is not always treated before it reaches our beaches and local waterways.

The City is taking proactive steps to preserve and protect the quality of its waterways for the future. By improving water quality we are protecting our ocean, providing a healthy marine environment, and helping to ensure a sustainable place to live, work, and play for years to come.

What Is Runoff?

Runoff is water from rain and outdoor water use that drains from roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and other surfaces that doesn’t soak into the ground.
different types of runoff

Water that flows into storm drains is NOT TREATED

Runoff from homes and businesses may contain water pollution that have harmful effects on downstream creeks, rivers, bays, and the ocean, which can impair recreational use and wildlife habitat.


What is polluted runoff, and what causes it?

When the water runoff flows over surfaces, it will pick up and carry pollutants it encounters. Many of these pollutants come from waste that we produce or mishandle at our homes. Common runoff pollutants include oil, paint, household cleaning supplies, sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, trash, yard waste, and pet waste.

The everyday activities we do around our homes, yards, and businesses can impact the quality of the runoff that drains into our waterways. Some common examples that can contribute to harmful runoff includes over fertilizing our yards or fertilizing before a heavy rain, not picking up pet waste, and excessive use of pesticides.

Misaligned Sprinkler

Why isn’t runoff treated?

It is not feasible to treat all runoff. Varying intensities, from outdoor water use to intense storm events, make it challenging to build a treatment system that can handle all runoff flows.

Why do we need to manage polluted runoff?

Managing runoff helps improve its quality and reduce its volume over time. Unlike sanitary sewer water, runoff flowing into our storm drains doesn’t receive any treatment before entering our waterways, thus delivering any pollutants that it picked up along the way. This negatively impacts the environment and atmosphere at our beaches. In addition, water that doesn’t seep into the ground runs off to lower areas, which can cause local flooding and stream bank erosion.

How does the City manage runoff?

The City is required to comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, which is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition to complying with NPDES regulations for its municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4), the City implements a runoff management program. 

managed polluted runoffWhere does runoff go?

The storm drain system in the City was built to prevent flooding. Stormwater flows through our storm drain channels directly to the Pacific Ocean and away from populated areas and streets.

However, stormwater from rain events is not the only water that goes into the storm drain system. The runoff from outside homes and businesses (such as from sprinklers and hoses) flows into storm drains even when there is no rain.

Together, stormwater and non-stormwater runoff flows, untreated, to the Pacific Ocean via an extensive series of creeks and channels.
runoff to ocean

How can I help prevent runoff prevention?

Visit our pollution prevention sections to see the many small actions you can take to help prevent runoff. To name a few, when working around your home or yard, make sure you dispose of products properly, keep items out of storm drains, pick up after your pets, keep yard waste out of the street, and eliminate or minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Storm Water Runoff VS Sanitary  Sewer
treated not treated runoff
The sewer system takes all the water from inside homes and businesses (such as sinks, bathtubs, washing machines, and toilets) and sends it to a water treatment facility where the water is cleaned before being released to the ocean.
VS.
The storm drain system takes all the water from outside homes and businesses (such as rain and overwatering of lawns) and sends it untreated to our local creeks, rivers, bays, and eventually the ocean.
The storm drain system is designed as a flood control system. It allows water from heavy rainstorms to flow quickly to our waterways to avoid flooding our streets, homes, and businesses. However, both stormwater and non-stormwater runoff from homes and businesses can pick up pollutants as large as shopping carts or as microscopic as bacteria. These pollutants are flushed into our waterways, impacting the environment and recreation at our beaches.
Because runoff that gets into our storm drain system is untreated, it is extremely important we prevent pollutants from entering the storm drains and, ultimately, our waterways.
Common Pollutants

Runoff pollutants come from many different sources such as oil on our roads, trash dropped on the streets, and sediment from construction sites. These pollutants can cause algal blooms, bacterial growth, harm to animal and human health, dirty beaches, and beach closures. Prevention is the key.
Common Pollutants

Home Solvents

Many common household cleaning products contain harmful chemical compounds which are toxic and volatile. If not used and disposed of properly, these chemicals enter our waterways and pose a threat to both human and aquatic life. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, dispose of waste at your local household hazardous waste recycling center, and choose cleaners without harmful chemicals whenever possible.

Paint

Paints, preservatives, varnishes, brush cleaners, and solvents contain a wide range of chemicals, some of which are suspected carcinogens. These products should never be put in storm drains, sewer or septic systems. Instead, dispose of waste at your local household hazardous waste recycling center. Learn more, visit our Home Repair & Improvements page.

Engine Oil

Composed of a mixture of several hundred organic chemicals, motor oil becomes contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals as it is used. When it enters our waterways, aquatic animals can be affected either directly when covered with oil or indirectly through reduced resistance to infection and disease. Plants can also be killed, or their growth stunted. In the long term, toxic substances are released as the oil breaks down, exposing aquatic plants and animals to potentially carcinogenic compounds. It is important to check your vehicles for leaks and properly clean up and contain engine oil spills. Learn more, visit our Car Maintenance page. Find your local used oil collection center HERE.

Yard Debris

Leaves and grass are a natural part of our ecosystems. However, when these materials end up in our lakes, rivers, or ocean, they begin to decompose and use up the critical, life-giving oxygen while “super fertilizing” the water with nutrients. As a result, these bodies of water can become unsightly, release a foul odor and lead to algal blooms and fish kills. Additionally, this excess debris can obstruct flow and clog downstream culverts, leading to localized flooding and erosion problems. When doing yard work, be sure not to leave any debris behind and dispose of properly in a green waste bin. Learn more, visit our Lawn and Garden Care page.

Pesticides

“Pesticides” is an umbrella term that includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides. Designed to kill “pests,” this big family of chemicals can also be dangerous to human health and the environment if applied incorrectly. When they enter our waterways, they can kill fish and plant life. It is important to be extremely careful in handling pesticides and to use safe alternatives whenever possible. Always apply pesticides according to instructions at the proper time and rate so that you use no more than is necessary. A good rule of thumb is to not apply pesticides 48 hours before a rain event.

Pet Waste

Waste from animals contains pathogens and bacteria. Some bacteria (like E. Coli) are harmful to people and animals. Bacteria affect land and water quality by increasing the risk of it spreading to humans and aquatic life. Bacteria from pet waste can lead to beach closures if it accumulates. Picking up after your pet is an individual act that has watershed-level effects.

Detergents

Many detergents contain phosphorus (an important plant nutrient). When excessive amounts of phosphorus from detergents get into our waterways, it can lead to hypoxia (low oxygen levels) which can cause fish kills and other ecological problems. Additionally, soaps can remove the protective mucous layer from fish, leaving them susceptible to disease. Use detergents without phosphorus whenever possible and be sure to use and dispose of all detergents responsibly.

Trash

Trash includes debris and litter, all of which can enter the storm drain system if not properly contained or disposed of. Items such as straws, cups, and paper can pollute our waterways, create water flow problems, and contaminate aquatic habitats. Always secure your trash can lid and properly dispose of waste.

Fertilizers

When fertilizers are inappropriately applied, the plants are unable to absorb all the nutrients and the remainder simply runs off. This is not only a waste of your time and money but also causes environmental harm through runoff. When fertilizers enter our waterways, they can feed algae to unsafe levels. These algal blooms deprive other plants of sunlight and nutrients and can lead to hypoxia (low oxygen levels) which can lead to fish kills. Always apply fertilizer according to instructions at the proper time and rate so that you use no more than is necessary.  A good rule of thumb is to not apply pesticides 48 hours before a rain event.

How Does the City Address Storm Water Quality?

The Public Works Department administers the Stormwater Management Program to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the storm sewer systems and associated receiving waters as regulated by the federal Clean Water Act through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program (Order No. R8-2009-0030).

The department implements a series of programs with the overall goal to reduce the amount of pollutants carried by stormwater runoff to our local creeks, channels, and ocean. The City believes that by diligently working to improve the quality of our environment, all residents, visitors, and wildlife will enjoy the benefits of cleaner beaches, lakes, and wetlands through improved water quality. Learn about the different programs that are implemented to manage the quality of surface waters.

Programs

  • Stormwater Inspections
  • New Development Water Quality Requirements
  • Public Outreach
  • Stormwater Drainage Systems
  • Stormwater Treatment
  • Sewer Diversion Systems
  • Enforcement Actions
  • Pollution Prevention/ Complaint Investigations

Stormwater Inspections

The NPDES Permit (Order No. R8-2009-0030) requires the City to conduct periodic inspections of commercial /industrial facilities and construction projects to ensure compliance with the Permit requirements. 

Commercial/Industrial Facilities

The City conducts commercial/ industrial inspection on a routine basis. The inspections include a review of the facility’s external stormwater pollution prevention practices, housekeeping practices, hazardous material storage areas, vehicle storage areas, trash and debris handling methods, environmental documentation , and other relevant items. Facilities are prioritized based on the treat to water quality impact (high, medium, and low). High priority facilities required annual inspections, medium facilities required inspections once every two years, and low priority facilities once per permit cycle (at least once every five years).  On average, the City conducts over 350 plus commercial/industrial facility inspections per year.

Construction Projects

Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As stormwater flows over a construction site (small or large), it picks up pollutants like sediment, construction debris, and chemicals such as paint and gas. The City inspects small and large construction projects on a routine basis to ensure the implementation of adequate and effective Best Management Practices (BMPs), and erosion and sediment control practices.  Construction projects are also prioritized based on the treat to water quality impact (high, medium, and low). High priority projects require inspections once every month during the rainy season (October 1 – April 30).  Medium priority projects are inspected at least twice during the rainy season and low priority projects are inspected once. In the dry season, inspections are conducted as necessary and when complaints are received from the community. On average, the City conducts over 300 plus construction project inspections per year. Learn more about pollution prevention for construction sites HERE.

Food Service Establishments

The most effective way to minimize Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) accumulation in the sanitary sewer system and to prevent sewer overflows which contaminates our waterways, is through implementation of a FOG/stormwater inspection program. This program regulates food service establishments (FSEs) through the inspection program. FSEs that produce FOG are required to be inspected at least once or twice a year.  The inspection consist of checking kitchen areas for proper practices and disposal of FOG, inspecting outdoor areas to ensure proper outdoor practices and documentation review for proper maintenance of grease removal devices. On average, the City inspects 400 FSEs per year. Learn more about our FOG Program HERE.

New Development Water Quality Requirements

The City implements strict requirements for new development and significant redevelopment projects to treat stormwater or urban runoff, post-construction phase. Depending on the project type and size, requirement may consist of treatment of runoff of 85th percentile of storm events. The City has reviewed and approved water quality treatments for over 200 projects. Some of the treatment consists of infiltration, bio-swales, treatment units (media filters), hydromodification, and detention basins, among others. The City implements an inspection program through which it verifies installation and maintenance of structural and non-structural BMPs. Learn more about this program HERE.

Public Education and Outreach

Public education, outreach, and involvement have become significantly important to the City as we recognize the immense scope of stormwater and water quality issues. Involving and educating the public will only ensure a stronger, healthier future for stormwater systems. Every year the City distributes educational materials at several facilities and is host of several public education and outreach events where we actively engage with the public and our community. These events have included:

  • Annual Coastal Clean-up Day
  • Centennial Celebration
  • Green Expo Day
  • Earth Day

Stormwater Drainage Systems

The City understands the importance of inspecting and maintaining our stormwater and drainage systems. Proper maintenance of the systems is important to prevent clogging, flooding, and surface water pollution during storms. Every year the City cleans approximately 1,700 plus catch basins, 8.4 miles of channels, operates and maintains 15 pump station forebays and removes over 150 tons of debris from such systems. 

Stormwater Treatment

The City has taken a proactive approach to treat stormwater. Presently, the City has 11 Continuous Deflective Separation (CDS) hydrodynamic separators to help capture trash and debris. 8 of these are installed along the coast. These systems have helped prevent trash and other debris from entering the ocean. The City conducts operation and maintenance of these systems at least twice a year.

Sewer Diversion Systems

The City has installed 11 sewer diversion stations. These systems help treat urban runoff during the dry seasons and divert it to the sanitary sewer system for proper treatment and disposal. These diversion systems/stations were designed to divert up to a maximum of 4 MGPD.

Enforcement actions

The City has the legal authority to prohibit and control illicit discharges and implements enforcement actions to achieve compliance with stormwater laws and regulations. The City uses a variety of enforcement options to address potential and actual non-stormwater discharges observed during inspections and surveillance of illicit discharges. The City’s enforcement options include the following:

  • Educational Warning Letters
  • Notice of Non-Compliances
  • Cease & Desist Orders
  • Administrative Citations ($125 - $1,000/ violation)
  • Criminal Remedies

These enforcement actions are issued to facilities or individuals who cause, allow, or facilitate prohibited discharges. The enforcement action issued to the facility or individual will depend on the severity of the discharge and threat to water quality and human health.

Pollution Prevention/ Complaint Investigations

The City provides different resources and tools for HB residents to report pollution or illicit discharges. Residents can download the MYHB Application, available for iPhones and Android phones, and submit service requests directly through the app. Complaints and pollution reporting is also available online through the City’s website, residents may also call our direct line to report incidents of pollution. A 24-hour Water Pollution Problem Reporting Hotline through Orange County is also available for reporting suspected discharges. Once a complaint or pollution reports is received, the department conducts investigations within the same hour after receiving report. Learn more about how to report pollution HERE.

To Report A Spill Or Discharge


Submit an online Service Request under the Storm Drain Non-Emergency option

Call (714) 960-8861 Monday - Friday (7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
After hours dial (714) 960 - 8825
For response to chemical spill emergencies, please dial 911
Please note the location of the complaint and a brief description and a member of our Stormwater Quality team will investigate the spill/discharge.

Suspected discharges may also be reported to the Orange County 24-Hour Water Pollution Problem Reporting Hotline 1-877-89SPILL
Orange County 24-Hour Water Pollution Problem Reporting Hotline 1-877-89SPILL
Pollution Prevention for Construction Sites
Pollution Prevention for Construction Sites

Some common sources of pollutants from construction sites include:

  • Sediment
  • Concrete and grout
  • Paints, lacquers, and primers
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Soaps and detergents
  • Wood preservatives
  • Equipment fuels, lubricants, coolants, and hydraulic fluids
  • Pesticides

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from construction sites can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.construction pollutants

Here are tips for construction sites to help keep our waterways clean:

  • Store materials under cover, with temporary roofs or plastic sheets, to eliminate or reduce the possibility that the materials can be carried from the project site to streets, storm drains or adjacent properties via rainfall, runoff or wind
  • Before starting construction, cover nearby storm drain inlets
  • Use an absorbent material such as cat litter to soak up spills, then sweep and dispose in the trash.

construction site mesh overlay


Additional Resources:
OCConstructionRunoffGuidanceManual


Best Management Practices for Single Lot Development
Pollution Prevention for Businesses
Automotive Industry

Some common pollutants from the automotive industry include:

  • Oil and grease
  • Radiator fluids and antifreeze
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Brake pad dust

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from the automotive industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:
automotive self contained

Cleaning:

  • When cleaning automotive parts, make sure to clean them in a self-contained unit, solvent sink, or parts washer to prevent solvents and grease from entering a sewer or storm drain. Contact your local recycling center to find where you can dispose of oils, solvents, etc.
Automotive self-contained storage

Storage:

  • Make sure to store vehicle parts and hazardous materials and waste such as fuels, solvents, batteries, and oils off the ground and in areas where they will not be exposed to rainwater or runoff
  • automotive spill kit2



Leaks and Spills:

  • Make sure to store vehicle parts and hazardous materials and waste such as fuels, solvents, batteries, and oils off the ground and in areas where they will not be exposed to rainwater or runoff.

Check out our applicable brochures, posters, and decals below:

Tips for the Automotive Industry (Spanish)

BMP Poster for the Automotive Industry

BMP Decals for the Automotive Industry

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Food Services


Some common pollutants from the food service industry include:

  • Cooking oil and grease
  • Food scraps
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Trash
  • Brake pad dust from delivery vehicles

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from the food service industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:
food waste disposal

Waste Disposal:

  • Close dumpster lids to avoid trash from flying out of the bins, to keep birds, vectors, and stormwater out
  • Perform routine maintenance in the dumpster enclosure, including removal of surrounding debris and trash
  • Contact your provider to repair or replace leaking or damaged dumpsters
  • Never put liquid waste in dumpsters or trash cans
  • Dispose of grease in appropriate receptacles
  • Do NOT pour grease into storm drains or sanitary sewers
  • Check out the City’s Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) website for proper disposal of FOG.
food surface cleaning

Cleaning:

  • Use a mop sink or wash basin to dispose of waste water generated during cleaning activities
  • Wash water from cleaning equipment such as filters, grills, and floor mats must be discharged to the sanitary sewers
  • Sweep sidewalks, parking lots, and all paved surfaces before washing and don’t use detergent, hot water, or other cleansers
  • Clean up spills immediately with absorbent material like rags or kitty litter instead of a hose
  • Do NOT hose down spills
food cleaning training

Employee Training:

  • Provide regular employee training on spill cleanup procedures and washing practices
  • Stencil storm drains to discourage illegal, harmful dumping
  • Post Best Management Practices (BMP) information where employees can see it

Also, check out our applicable brochures, posters, and decals below:

Tips for the Food Services Industry (Spanish)

BMP Poster for the Food Services Industry

BMP Decals for the Food Services Industry

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Industrial Business Compliance for Senate Bill 205


Senate Bill 205 (2019) was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 2, 2019 and became effective January 1, 2020. This Senate Bill added sections 16000.3 and 16100.3 to the Business and Professions Code and section 13383.10 to the Water Code, and requires a person applying to a city or county for a new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit, if such a permit is required. Prior to the issuance or renewal of a business license, the city or county must determine whether the applicant is required to enroll in the NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities (Industrial General Permit) and, if so, ensure such enrollment has occurred. This will substantially increase the number of compliant industrial facilities and will reduce the spread of pollutants in storm water associated with industrial activities.

Beginning January 1, 2020, the State requires that new business licenses and renewals that use a regulated SIC code must provide a WDID, NEC, or NONA number showing coverage under the Industrial Permit Program. All business license applications and renewals require a self-identified SIC Code.

For a list of regulated SIC codes CLICK HERE

Visit the State Water Resources Control Board for more information

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to process your business license, please verify that your SIC code is correct and matches the activity conducted at your facility. If it does, you must contact the State Water Board and obtain permit coverage or an exemption. A 90 day provisional business license may be issued by the City allowing you to operate until your WDID, NEC, or NONA number is received. If you do not obtain coverage, your provisional business license will be rescinded.

For more information on City business license CLICK HERE or call (714) 536-5267

Industrial/Commercial

Industrial / Commercial

Some common pollutants from industrial and commercial sites include:

  • Sediment
  • Fertilizer
  • Pesticides
  • Metals
  • Soaps and detergents
  • Cleaning solvents
  • Trash and debris
  • Oil and grease 


    Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from industrial/commercial sites can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

    HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE INDUSTRIAL / COMMERCIAL INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:


Green Dumpster

Waste Disposal

  • Cover dumpsters and other waste containers to keep stormwater out. Frequently pick up debris around the dumpsters. Inspect dumpsters regularly and have your hauler repair or replace leaky dumpsters.

food cleaning

Cleaning

  • Implement a sweeping program to clean-up and collect the pollutants that tend to accumulate in your business facility
  • Implement dry cleaning methods to the maximum extent practicable
  • Wash water from cleaning filters, grills, floor mats and garbage bins must be discharged to the sanitary sewer system. Provide an inside sink or wash basin for mop water and washing equipment

Storage

  • Properly handle and store chemicals and avoid exposure to rainfall
  • Avoid outdoor storage of equipment and materials that are leaking oils

Employees Being Trained

Employee Training

  • Provide regular employee training on spill cleanup procedures and washing practices, and always keep a spill kit with absorbent materials in the work area.

 

Also, check out our applicable brochures below:

Proper Maintenance Practices for Your Business

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Landscape Services

Some common pollutants from the landscape services industry include:

  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Dirt and soil
  • Grass clippings

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from the landscape services industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE LANDSCAPE SERVICES INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:
Sweeping a Yard
Sweep

  • Lawn clippings and trimmings gathered by brooms, rakes, or leaf blowers should be disposed of in the green waste container, never in the gutter or storm drain

Pesticide Use
Pesticides Use

  • Use pesticides and fertilizers only as directed. Do not over-apply these chemicals and never use pesticides or fertilizers when rain is predicted within 48-hours.

Drip Irrigation - Copy
Use Drip Irrigation or Hand Water

  • Use drip irrigation or hand water with a spray nozzle on the hose to prevent overwatering and water runoff from carrying pollutants into the storm drain.

Using Green Dumpsters
Proper Landscape Maintenance

  • For proper landscape maintenance, make sure to closely follow label directions for the use and disposal of fertilizers and pesticides.

Also, check out our applicable brochures below:

Waterway-Safe Landscaping

Responsible Pest Control

Tips for Residential Pool, Landscape, and Hardscape Drains

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is a method of development that seeks to maintain the natural hydrologic character of an area. LID provides a more sustainable and pollution-preventative approach to water management. Water quality regulations for Orange County require implementation of LID in larger new developments and encourage LID and other sustainable practices in existing areas. Using these LID tips for businesses, you will decrease polluted runoff and local flooding, increase water infiltration, and reduce your business’s water bill.

LID TECHNIQUES FOR BUSINESSES

Bioretention

Bioretention areas function as soil and plant-based filtration devices that remove pollutants from runoff through a variety of physical, biological, and chemical treatment processes. Bioretention cells can achieve quality runoff control by infiltrating and temporarily storing runoff. They function as dynamic, living micro-ecological systems that demonstrate many benefits such as:

  • Create attractive landscaping
  • Provide natural habitat for birds and butterflies
  • Increase soil moisture
  • Increase evapotranspiration
  • Create a comfortable local climate
  • Reduce on-site erosion
  • Reduce flow energy

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are an inexpensive way to easily maintain water retention that can be used in commercial or residential settings. Rain barrels are typically small devices that contain a downspout, sealed lid, and an overflow pipe.

Prevent mosquito growth in and around rain barrels by ensuring all entry points are tightly sealed.

 Cisterns

Cisterns are roof water management devices that retain runoff in above or underground storage tanks. They hold more water by volume than rain barrels with some underground cisterns having the capacity for 10,000 gallons of runoff. On-site cistern use with redistribution helps conserve water and can reduce water utility costs.

Permeable Surfaces

Paving materials and design benefits include:

  • Eliminate local flooding
  • Help groundwater recharge
  • Control erosion
  • Facilitate pollutant removal

Pervious Concrete
Porous Concrete
Permeable Pavement
Soil Amendments

Soil amendments composed of green waste top soil, lime, and gypsum can help provide added nutrients to a landscape. These additives can reduce polluted runoff by helping minimize development impacts on native soils and restoring their infiltration capacity. A large business landscape would benefit from a soil analysis prior to compost amending.

Tree Box Filters

Tree box filters are mini bioretention cells that live beneath trees. These are very effective at collecting polluted runoff that is then filtered by local vegetation and entered into a catch basin to be distributed throughout the area.

Green Roofs

Green roofs help reduce harmful effects to water quality by filtering, absorbing, or detaining rainfall through vegetated roof covers. They are comprised of a lightweight soil on top of a drainage layer and impermeable membrane which helps to protect the building. Green roofs can use native plants that are adapted to the Orange County climate, reducing the need for additional irrigation. Green roof benefits include:

  • Use of natural remedies to prevent polluted runoff
  • Reduce runoff and discharge
  • Reduce the building air conditioning bill
Mobile Businesses

Some common pollutants from the mobile business industry include:

  • Contaminated water
  • Cleaning chemicals and solutions
  • Brake pad and tire dust

Runoff from the mobile business industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE MOBILE BUSINESSES INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:

Follow the 3C’s as a general guideline:

Contain

Control

Capture

Contain your work area by preventing water and potential pollutants from leaving your work site. Be aware of nearby storm drains to prevent any potential flow or discharge to the storm drain system.

Better manage your work area by organizing and containing equipment, tools, and supplies. Use dry cleaning methods first such as sweeping up debris with a broom, using a mop to clean hard surfaces, and using absorbent material to pick up hazardous spills.

Clean up your work area and properly dispose of contaminated water, pollutants, and debris. Use a broom, mop, or vacuum to capture any residue or pollutants that have the potential to be discharged.

Practice BMPs related to the mobile business industry. Here's a guide to practical methods:

BMPs for Pressure Washing and Surface Cleaning (Spanish)

Also, check out our applicable brochures below:

Compliance BMPs for Mobile Businesses

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

New Development/Redevelopment

Some common pollutants from the new development/redevelopment industry include:

  • Building materials
  • Construction debris

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from the new development/redevelopment industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and Orange County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE NEW DEVELOPMENT / REDEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:

Contain

Control

Train

Contain your work area by preventing water and potential pollutants from leaving your work site. Be aware of nearby storm drains to prevent any potential flow or discharge to the storm drain system.

 

Better manage your work area by organizing and containing equipment, tools, and supplies. Use dry cleaning methods first such as sweeping up debris with a broom, using a mop to clean hard surfaces, and using absorbent material to pick up hazardous spills.

 

Train employees on how to properly cleanup work sites. Always keep a spill kit with absorbent material in the work area.

 

 

Check out our Water Quality Management Plan Website for more information

Check out out applicable brochures below:

Water Quality Requirements for Land Development

Pool Services

Some common pollutants from the pool services industry include:

  • Chemicals
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Chlorinated water

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater) from the pool services industry can be a major source of these pollutants, and once released, these harmful pollutants can be transported to our City and County channels and the ocean.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR THE POOL SERVICES INDUSTRY TO HELP KEEP OUR WATERWAYS CLEAN:

It is preferred that pool and spa water is discharged to the sanitary sewer. However, pool and spa water may be discharged to the storm drain if residual chlorine is less than 0.1 mg/L, the pH is between 6.5 and 8.5, and the water is free of any unusual coloration, dirt, or algae. Control the volume, avoid high flows of pool water to discharge in order to prevent the areas from flooding. Call 714-536-5431 to obtain more information.

Filter Maintenance

  • Sand filters, filter cartridges, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters should be washed or backwashed into the sewer system not public storm drains. DE is very harmful to aquatic life, so used DE must be bagged and disposed with trash

Chlorine Removal

  • Excess chlorine can be removed by discontinuing the use of chlorine for a few days prior to discharge or by purchasing dechlorinating chemicals from a pool supply company

Saltwater

  • Consider switching a chlorine-based system to a salt-water system

Also, check out our applicable brochure below: 

Tips for Pool and Spa Maintenance

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Pollution Prevention for Residents
Animal Care

Our Pets & Stormwater Pollution: The Not-So-Adorable Link

As pet lovers, we all know the joy dogs and cats can bring to their owners. They’re cute, cuddly, loyal, and they love us unconditionally. But…they also poop. While pet waste is one of the many contributors to stormwater pollution in Orange County, the good news is it’s one that each of us can easily help prevent! Storm drains are not connected to wastewater treatment plants or septic systems like the drains in your home. When pet or livestock waste is left on the sidewalk, street, or yard, stormwater and non-stormwater runoff can wash it directly into our storm drain system and out to our City and County channels and ocean without it being treated first.

Animal waste is a threat to human and environmental health because it contains harmful bacteria and pathogens, some of which can cause serious diseases in humans. Animal waste also contains many other nutrient pollutants, which contribute to damaging algae growth in a water body. Being a responsible owner means picking up after your animal. Here is how you can properly dispose of animal waste and prevent local water pollution:

  • Bring a bag
  • Clean it up
  • Dispose of it properly (trash or toilet)

Use these tips to help prevent polluted runoff from entering our storm drain system.

Pets:

  • All pet waste must be picked up and properly disposed of. Pet waste should be disposed of in the regular trash or flushed down a toilet
  • To properly dispose of pet waste, carry bags or a pooper-scooper while walking with pets
  • Bathe pets indoors and use less toxic shampoos. When possible, have pets professionally groomed
  • Properly inoculate your pet to maintain their health and reduce the possibility of pathogens in pet wastes
  • Properly dispose of unused flea control products (shampoo, sprays, or collars)

Horses:

  • Use less-toxic alternatives for grooming. Even biodegradable products can be harmful to humans, marine life and the environment. Follow instructions on the products and clean up spills
  • When washing horses, allow wash water to infiltrate into the ground, or collect in an area that is routed to a sanitary sewer, not a storm drain
  • During heavy rainfall, consider indoor feeding, a practice that keeps manure under a roof and away from runoff
  • Store animal waste in a sturdy, seepage-free unit that is enclosed or under cover
  • Do not store manure on-site for more than one week

More Information

For more information about proactive pet care to prevent polluted runoff, check out our applicable brochures below:

Tips for Pet Care

Tips for Horse Care

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Car Maintenance

Automobile repair and maintenance activities have the potential to contribute directly to water pollution primarily through spills or direct dumping of waste fluids into storm drains. Common automobile maintenance pollutants include:

  • Oil
  • Grease
  • Solvents
  • Sediment
  • Metals
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hazardous materials

Use these tips to help prevent polluted runoff from entering our storm drain system, and remember, the ocean starts at your front door.

DON'T DRIP AND DRIVE, GET YOUR CAR LEAKS FIXED

  • Detect leaks and fix immediately
  • Vehicles that leak oil and other fluids such as antifreeze, brake fluids are dangerous and harmful for us and the environment
  • If you see a build up of fluids on your parking spot, place a drip pan underneath your car until you repair the leak

REQUIRED ACTIVITIES

  • Motor oil is a serious environmental hazard if not properly collected and recycled. Recycle used oil and antifreeze by taking them to service stations and other recycling centers, and never pour oil in storm drains. 
  • Do not perform repair and maintenance activities during rain events
  • Immediately clean up and contain any spills. Dispose of all waste and absorbent materials properly
  • Store hazardous materials and wastes indoors, under cover, or in watertight containers. These include but are not limited to: fluids, solvents, parts containing fluids, and batteries
  • Perform automobile maintenance and repairs over water-resistant surfaces like concrete, so spills and waste material can be quickly and easily cleaned up. Use preventative tools like drip pans and plastic sheeting to contain spills and waste material
  • Dispose of cleaning and toxic solvents at your local household hazardous waste recycling center

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES

  • Wash your car on permeable surfaces, like your lawn; this allows water to infiltrate instead of running off your property
  • Conduct auto repair activities at a commercial repair facility
  • Perform automobile repair and maintenance activities under a covered area
  • Do not buy fluids containing target pollutants like degreasers containing PERC
  • Monitor parked or stored vehicles and equipment for leaks, and place pans under leaks to collect fluids for proper disposal or recycling

MORE INFORMATION

For more information about proactive automotive care to prevent polluted runoff, check out our applicable brochures below:

Tips for the Home Mechanic

RECYCLE YOUR USED OIL

Find Your Local Used Oil Collection Center

Schedule a curbside pick-up through Waste Management by calling

1-800-449-7587

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Home Repairs & Improvements

By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants off the ground and out of storm drains. Many hazardous materials that may be used in and around residences during routine maintenance activities include:

  • Oils
  • Paints
  • Cleaners
  • Bleaches
  • Pesticides
  • Glues
  • Solvents

Adopt these healthy household habits to keep storm drains and the ocean clear of polluted runoff.

REQUIRED ACTIVITIES

  • Clean out painting equipment in an area where the waste can be contained and properly disposed of. Latex-based paints can enter the sewer while oil-based needs to be brought to your local household hazardous waste recycling center
  • Rinse off cement mixers and cement laden tools in a contained washout area. Dispose of dried concrete waste in household trash
  • If safe, contain, clean up and properly dispose of all hazardous waste spills. If unsafe conditions exist, call 911 to activate a proper response team
  • Household hazardous materials must be stored indoors or under cover, and in closed and labeled containers. Dispose of them at a household hazardous waste center
  • Household wash waters (e.g. washing machine waste, mop water) must be disposed of in the sanitary sewer

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES

  • Only purchase the types and amounts of materials needed
  • Share unused portions of products with neighbors or community programs

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

More Information

For more information about proactive home care to prevent polluted runoff, check out our applicable brochures below:

Tips for Home Improvement Projects

Tips for Using Concrete and Mortar (Spanish)

Tips for Projects Using Paint (Spanish)

Sewage Spill Reference Guide for Private Property Owners

Lawn & Garden Care

A runoff friendly lawn and garden does not harm waterways by utilizing limited chemical application and absorbing the proper amount of water. Activities such as over irrigation, landscape maintenance, fertilization, and pesticide application have the potential to discharge pollutants to the storm drain system.

Use these tips to help prevent polluted runoff from entering our storm drain system.

REQUIRED ACTIVITIES

  • Properly adjust irrigation systems to reflect seasonal water needs
  • Minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Read the labels and follow directions to avoid improper use. Only apply chemicals when it is not windy and more than 48-hours from a rainstorm
  • Properly clean up and dispose of gardening chemical, fertilizer, or soil spills. If possible, return the spilled material to the container for future use
  • Store lawn and garden care products in closed and labeled containers, in covered areas, or off the ground and under protective tarps
  • Cover non-vegetated surfaces to prevent erosion

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES

  • Utilize drought and insect resistant landscaping
  • Nurture your garden often to control weeds, which require additional irrigation when not removed
  • Use integrated pest management (IPM) by planting pest repelling plants
  • Do not leave food (human or pet) outside overnight
  • Remove fruit and garden waste

More Information

For more information about proactive lawn and garden care to prevent polluted runoff, check out our applicable brochures below:

Tips for Landscape & Gardening

Tips to Prevent Overwatering

Responsible Pest Control

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Low Impact Development for Residents

Runoff (stormwater and non-stormwater runoff) from homes can pick up pollutants (such as yard debris, trash, pet waste, pesticides, and more) and flush it all into our waterways, impacting the environment and recreation at our beaches. Proper use of Low Impact Development (LID) techniques can reduce the runoff flowing from homes.

The key to LID is simple – keep water from leaving a site or property by slowing the flow, retaining water onsite, and encouraging infiltration.

RAINWATER HARVESTING AND REUSE

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels capture rainwater flow from roofs for reuse in landscape irrigation. When purchasing your rain barrel, make sure it includes a screen, a spigot to siphon water for use, an overflow tube to allow for excess water to run out, and a connector if you wish to connect multiple barrels to add capacity of water storage. Prevent mosquito growth in and around your rain barrel by ensuring all entry points are tightly sealed.

Downspout Disconnection/Redirection

Disconnecting downspouts from pipes running to the gutter prevents runoff from transporting pollutants to the storm drain. Once disconnected, downspouts can be redirected to rain gardens, vegetated areas, or connected to a rain barrel.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens allow runoff to be directed from your roof downspout into a landscaped area.

The vegetation and rocks in the garden will slow the flow of water and allow for soil infiltration. By using native plants that are adapted to the semi-arid climate of Southern California, a rain garden will absorb pollutants, be maintained all year with minimal additional irrigation, and reduce your water bill. Before modifying your yard to install a rain garden, please consult building and/or planning departments to ensure your garden plan follows relevant building codes and ordinances.

WATER CONSERVATION AND POLLUTION PREVENTION TECHNIQUES

Native Vegetation and Maintenance

OC Garden Friendly plants or native vegetation can significantly reduce water use. These plants often require far less fertilizers and pesticides, which are two significant pollutants found in water runoff. Replacing water “thirsty” plants and grasses with water efficient natives will save water and reduce the need for potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizer.

Weed-Free Yards

Weeds are water thieves. They reproduce quickly and rob your yard of both water and nutrients. Weeding by hand reduces the need for herbicides to control the weed population. If herbicides are required, use only the recommended amount and never use within 48 hours of forecasted rain.

Soil Amendments

Soil amendments such as green waste (e.g. grass clippings, compost, etc.) can be a significant source of nutrients and can help keep the soil moist. However, if they get into our waterways they can cause algal blooms, which reduce the amount of oxygen in the water and impact most aquatic organisms. To prevent algal blooms, never apply soil amendments within 48 hours of forecasted rain.

SMART IRRIGATION

Proper aim

Test your sprinklers and adjust their direction to avoid spraying on sidewalks. This will prevent polluted runoff, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce your water bill.

Set a timer

Lawns will quickly absorb the water they need to stay healthy. Time your sprinklers to run for only a few minutes to prevent “overwatering” that can lead to local flooding and polluted runoff.

Water at sunrise

Water your lawn in the early morning to reduce water loss from evaporation.

Water by hand

Consider watering your yard by hand to ensure all plants get the proper amount of water and to prevent “overwatering” that can lead to local flooding and polluted runoff.

Fix leaks

Fix sprinklers and other outdoor water leaks immediately. If your garden hose is leaking, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection. This will help prevent contributing to the one trillion gallons of water wasted each year nationwide due to leaks.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information about how to adapt your yard to reuse rainwater and reduce polluted runoff, check out the Landscape and Sustainable Water Use Guide and our Pollution Prevention for Residents resources.

Pool Care

Swimming pools and spas offer good, clean, irresistible fun, but they do not come without certain responsibilities and considerations for downstream waters and wildlife.  Swimming pools and spas must be maintained properly to guarantee that chemicals don’t enter the street, where they can flow into storm drains and then into our City and Orange County channels and ocean.  Since water in storm drains is NOT treated, take the following precautions to protect our waterways.

It is preferred that pool and spa water is discharged to the sanitary sewer. However, pool and spa water may be discharged to the storm drain if residual chlorine is less than 0.1 mg/L, the pH is between 6.5 and 8.5, and the water is free of any unusual coloration, dirt, or algae. Control the volume, avoid high flows of pool water to discharge in order to prevent areas from flooding. 

Once the summer begins, there are more discharges of diatomaceous earth in the street.  Commonly known as D.E., diatomaceous earth for pools is derived from tiny fossilized exoskeletons of algae-like water plants called diatoms.  D.E powder provides better filtration results for pools compared to sand filters and cartridge filter systems, which is why people use them.  However, did you know that diatomaceous earth cannot be discharged onto the street and into the storm drain system? When diatomaceous earth is washed into the street, not only does it leave a mess in street gutters, the material chokes out aquatic life in creeks downstream when washed into street catch basins. This is the reason why you should follow proper tips for pool and filter maintenance.

Call our Department for any questions or concerns or to obtain more information: (714)536-5431.

TIPS FOR POOL & FILTER MAINTENANCE

Filter Maintenance

Pool Water

Chlorine Removal

Sand filters, filter cartridges, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters should be washed or backwashed into the sewer system, NOT on the street or the storm drain system. Dispose of spent DE in the garbage. 

 

If you are disposing pool water into a sanitary sewer, make sure the water is free of any unusual coloration, dirt, or algae.

 

Excess chlorine can be removed by discontinuing the use of chlorine for a few days prior to discharge or by purchasing dechlorinating chemicals from a pool supply company.

 

More Information

For more information about proactive pool care to prevent polluted runoff, check out our applicable brochures below:

Tips for Pool Maintenance (Spanish)

Tips for Residential Pool, Landscape, and Hardscape Drains

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Used Motor Oil & Filter Collection

Recycling/ Disposal of Used Motor Oil 

More than half of motorists change their own motor oil. It is important to recycle the used motor oil and filters that come from your car, truck, motorcycle, boat, recreational vehicle, and even lawnmower. If you take your car to an automotive service facility, you can be fairly certain that they recycle the oil that they change.

Used Motor Oil is Hazardous

Used motor oil can contain toxic substances such as benzene, lead, zinc, and cadmium. When used motor oil is improperly disposed of (thrown away in the garbage or dumped on the ground or down a sewer system) these pollutants may reach our channels, ocean and contaminate our water. Disposing of used oil inappropriately and releasing it into the environment can harm humans, plants, animals and impact our marine habitat.

Used Motor Oil Can Be Recycled

Used motor oil is a valuable resource. Oil doesn't wear out, it just gets dirty. The used oil you take to a collection site can be recycled into new products, burned for heat or the production of asphalt, or used in power plants to generate electricity. When you recycle your used oil, you are protecting the environment and conserving a valuable resource.

How Can I Recycle My Used Oil? 

If you only produce a small amount of used oil, you can take it to one of many of the used oil collection facilities in the City. Residents of Huntington Beach can also schedule a FREE home collection

To schedule a pick-up call: 1-800-449-7587 

Visit: WMATYOURDOOR.COM  

Email: [email protected]

Recycle used oil and antifreeze by taking them to service stations and other recycling centers, and never pour oil in storm drains.

Find a Certified Used Oil Recycling Center

Check out the following links to learn more about how you can help prevent pollution.

Pollution Prevention for Residents

REPORT POLLUTION HERE

Regulatory Information
Regulatory Overview

The City of Huntington Beach implements a comprehensive storm water program as required by the federal Clean Water Act amendments of 1987. The program is designed to reach residents and businesses in the city with the overall goal of reducing storm water pollutants that enter the storm drain system and minimize potential water quality impacts to nearby creeks, channels and ocean.

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (SARWQCB) issued the first National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) municipal storm water permit to the city on July 13, 1990 and the latest (fourth term) permit was issued on May 22, 2009 (Order Number R8-2009-0030).

The City's program is based on the countywide policy documents known as the Drainage Area Management Plan (DAMP) and the City's Local Implementation Plan (LIP); originally adopted in 2003.

WATERSHEDS

The City falls within two watersheds. These include the East Garden Grove Wintersburg/ Bolsa Chica Channel- Huntington Harbour Watershed and the Talbert/ Greenville Banning – Lower Santa Ana River Watershed. Watersheds are generally areas that drain to a single point or Receiving Water. In the case of these watersheds, the Huntington Harbour Watershed drains into Huntington Harbour, Anaheim Bay, Outer Bolsa Chica Wetlands and the Pacific Ocean. The Lower Santa Ana River Watershed also drains into the Pacific Ocean.

Illegal Discharges

Illegal discharge is the unauthorized entry of runoff into a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). The discharge can be either direct (e.g. wastewater pipe connected to a storm drain) or indirect (e.g. infiltration by cracked sanitary systems, spills, or paint or oil dumped directly into a drain). Discharges that enter the MS4 are not treated and flows directly to our waterways picking up pollutants along the way. Pollutants can include heavy metals (i.e. copper, lead, and zinc), oil and grease, solvents, nutrients (i.e. fertilizer), and pathogens (i.e. viruses and bacteria). According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), illegal discharge can decrease water quality and be harmful to aquatic, wildlife and human health.

SOURCES OF ILLEGAL DISCHARGES CAN INCLUDE:

  • Commercial car wash wastewater
  • Improper oil disposal
  • Improper disposal of radiator flushing fluid
  • Improper disposal of carpet or fabric cleaning wastewater
  • Spills from roadway accidents
  • Improper disposal of auto and household solvents

More Information

If you suspect an illegal discharge, find out how to Report Pollution HERE

Stormwater Permits

The City of Huntington Beach, the Orange County Flood Control District (OCFCD), and 34 other cities in Orange County (collectively referred to as Co-Permittees) comply with a municipal stormwater permit issued by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Permit can be viewed using the links below.

More Information

North Orange County Municipal Stormwater Permit