Clean Water Program

The City of Del Mar’s Clean Water Program goal is to protect our most visible and valuable natural resources - our lagoons, beaches, and the Pacific Ocean - from potential urban runoff pollution impacts. To accomplish this, the Clean Water Program staff works with the community, City staff and staff from other jurisdictions in San Diego County to ensure that the requirements of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Regional Municipal Storm Water Permit (Municipal Permit) are met through implementing program activities such as education/training, water quality monitoring and assessment, inspections, and enforcement activities.

The City of Del Mar is located within two watersheds: the San Dieguito Watershed to the north and the Los Peñasquitos Watershed to the south.  A watershed is the area of land that all water drains to a specific waterbody (Watershed Demonstration video).  Runoff from the City leads to the two watersheds as well as to the beaches/ocean. The watersheds ultimately drain to the ocean as well, and as a coastal community, Del Mar’s proximity to the ocean increases the importance of pollution prevention in all City runoff. 

Water pollution can come from many different sources such as garbage, lawn clippings, and urban runoff that include pollutants such as oil and heavy metals from roads, animal and human feces, and pesticides and fertilizers from home gardening activities. Unlike sanitary sewers, storm drains are not connected to treatment plants. Water and pollution that runs off of streets and land flows directly into the lagoons and the ocean without treatment.

The City’s program must fulfill the requirements of the Municipal Permit. The purpose of the Permit is to set out requirements for the jurisdictions of San Diego County that will lead to improvements in surface water quality as required under the Federal Clean Water Act.  This is achieved through implementation of the City of Del Mar’s Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program, local ordinances and enforcement actions.  

Through the Municipal Permit, the jurisdictions in San Diego County are required to develop Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) for each watershed.  For the City of Del Mar, this would include WQIPs for the San Dieguito and Los Peñasquitos Watersheds.  The outcomes of the WQIP planning process will prioritize and focus the City of Del Mar’s Clean Water Program to protect our precious water resources.

The WQIPs will identify priority conditions in each watershed (e.g., bacteria, sediment) to focus our programs and activities.  The Clean Water Program will implement various best management practices and/or activities to address the priorities.  Examples of City activities implemented to address potential sources of pollution (e.g., uncovered dumpsters, improper storage of hazardous materials and leaking equipment) include:
  • Focused inspections of commercial, municipal, industrial and construction sites
  • Response to public or City staff observations of potential polluting activities
  • Observations of storm drains to identify pollutant sources
  • Investigations of pollutant sources
  • Cleaning of the storm drain system
  • Street sweeping
  • Diverting non-stormwater discharges to the sanitary sewer system
  • Requiring development projects to comply with structural treatment controls
Public Involvement
If you see any of the following, please immediately notify the City at 858-755-9313(X172); or through email at; or submit an Urban Runoff Report Form online:
• Building materials or dirt coming off the property of construction sites; 
• Power washing or mobile detailing operations whose run-off is flowing into the storm drain system;
• Over irrigation where water is running-off into the streets or storm drain system; 
• Landscape crews using hoses to wash down driveways or gutters into the street; or 
• Restaurants washing their mats or equipment outdoors and allowing the runoff to flow into the streets or alleyways.

For other environmental concerns (e.g., sewer spills), please contact the City Public Works Department at 858-755-3294 24-hours a day to report your concern.