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What is Storm Water Pollution?

Storm water pollution is urban runoff water that has picked up pollutants as it flows through the storm drain system–a network of channels, gutters and pipes that collect runoff from city streets, neighborhoods, construction sites and parking lots–and empties directly into local waterways and ultimately the ocean.

How does the City of Fullerton Storm Drain System Work?

[no dumping sign]

Unlike the sewer system, which goes to treatment plants, urban runoff flows untreated through the storm drain system. Anything thrown, swept or poured into the street, gutter or a catch basin–the curbside openings that lead into the storm drain system–can flow directly into our channels, creeks, and the ocean. This includes pollutants like trash, yard and pet waste, motor oil, construction debris, runoff from pesticides and fertilizers, paint from brushes and containers rinsed in the gutter and toxic household chemicals. Urban runoff pollution contaminates the ocean, causes beach closures, and harms aquatic life. It can also clog gutters and catch basins, increasing the risk of flooding.

How you can Prevent Storm Water Pollution?

Everyone can help prevent storm water pollution. It is often caused by everyday behavior that you may not realize contributes to the problem. Simple behavior changes are all it takes to prevent storm water pollution, if we all do our part.

What is NPDES?

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program was established as a result of the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, subsequently known as the Clean Water Act. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to navigable waters from a point source unless the discharge is authorized by an NPDES permit. In 1987, Congress passed a Clean Water Act Amendment, the Water Quality Act, which brought storm water discharges into the NPDES Program.

Cities and counties are regulated through permits issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Since 1990, operators of large storm drain systems such as the City have been required to:

  • Develop a storm water management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being dumped or washed by storm water runoff, into the storm water system, then discharged into local waterbodies; and
  • Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

The NPDES permit programs in California are administered by the State Water Resources Control Board and by nine regional boards that issue NPDES permits and enforce regulations within their respective regions. The City of Fullerton lies within the jurisdiction of the Santa Ana Region. The regional board issues permits to the Orange County Permittees, which includes the County of Orange, Orange County Flood Control District and incorporated cities of Orange County. Since the program’s inception, the County of Orange has served as the principal permittee.

Some Industrial activities and certain construction activities are subject to the Industrial Storm Water General Permit (General Industrial Permit) or the (Construction General Permit) regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, through general storm water permits. For further information follow the link to the appropriate permit.

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