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A watershed is the area of land where all water drains to a specific waterbody. 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.
San Dieguito and Los Peñasquitos Watersheds
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Storm water is a specific term referring to water generated from rain. Urban runoff is a more general term referring to storm water runoff generated from rain that flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. Urban runoff also refers to all other water that originates from urbanized areas such as industrial discharges, irrigation water, leaks and spills, and wash water. These are commonly known as “non-storm water discharges.” This runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our lagoons and the Pacific Ocean.
Besides wasting money, irrigation water that runs off your lawn can cause erosion and carry soil, trash, pet waste and excess fertilizers and pesticides from your lawn into the storm drains and ocean. In addition, it can pick up other pollutants it may encounter on its path to the storm drain system (i.e. trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment). Trash and decaying plant material can result in harmful bacteria at our beaches. Pesticides can damage important ecosystems and cause health threats. Fertilizers can contribute to excessive plant and algae growth, and dead and/or dying plant material in the water can take the oxygen out of the water and suffocate all other life in the water.
Beach closure signs are required when beach water quality testing or known sewage spills indicate that a health threat exists to swimmers due to high bacteria levels. Bacteria can increase in rivers and beaches from storm water and urban runoff entering the storm drains that have come into contact with fecal matter (animal waste, including pet waste), excessive green or garden waste, fertilizers and other materials. When water quality test results do not meet State health standards, or there is a suspected sewage or chemical impact to recreational waters, the Beach and Bay Water Quality Program (San Diego County) issues advisories and closures to inform the public. These postings are required by the County Health Department and are generally posted by a Beach and Bay Water Quality Staff Member. Once an advisory or closure has been issued, the Beach and Bay Water Quality Program will revisit the area to collect a resample. Sample results are received between 24-48 hours. Once samples indicate water quality is within State health standards, the postings are lifted by either program staff or lifeguards. The City’s lifeguards are notified by the County Health Department regarding posting requirements and can provide additional information.
Additional beach water quality information may be obtained through the following resources:
It is illegal to power wash or hose down your sidewalks and driveways if the water enters the street, a storm drain, storm water conveyance system, or receiving waterbody (the lagoons or ocean). Hosing and power washing flush all of the pollutants that are on the streets, sidewalks and driveways into the nearest storm drain and out to the ocean. These pollutants typically include the following:
There are methods that can be implemented to contain and properly dispose of wash water, preventing it from entering the storm drain. For example, commercial power washers are required to contain the wash water with berms or other methods, vacuum it up, and then dispose of it in an approved location, usually the sanitary sewer. If residents do not have the resources to prevent the wash water from entering the streets and storm drain, an easy alternative is to sweep up (instead of hosing down) the areas and dispose of the debris in the trash.
It is still permitted to wash your personal vehicle at home. However, the best alternative is to take your vehicle to a commercial car wash, where wash water is recycled and then directed to the sanitary sewer for treatment. If you must wash your vehicle at home, please try to limit the amount of soap and water used and, if possible, conduct the washing on a pervious surface where the water can soak in, such as on your lawn or gravel. It should be noted that charity car washes are prohibited in the City, unless the wash water is prevented from entering the storm drain system and receiving water bodies. The City can provide guidance as to how charities can conduct water friendly car washes. Mobile detailers may be used by residents providing they have a City of Del Mar business license and contain the wash water with berms or other methods, vacuum it up, and then dispose of it in an approved location, like the sanitary sewer.
You are allowed to discharge swimming pools/spas once residual chlorine, algaecide, filter backwash, or other pollutants are removed. To dechlorinate the pool water, you can let it sit (without adding any more chemicals) and test for chlorine or use a commercial dechlorinating chemical (available at pool supply stores) and carefully follow instructions. The discharge of saline swimming pools/spas must be directed to the sanitary sewer, landscaped areas, or other pervious surfaces that can accommodate the volume of water. Prior to discharge of any pool/spa water, the path to the storm drain system should be cleared and flow rates should be non-erosive. It is advised that all residents and pool maintenance companies contact the Public Works Department (858-755-3294) prior to discharging pool or spa water to review the most appropriate method based on the location and conditions.
It is illegal to dump oil or other automobile fluids into the gutters or storm drains. All automobile fluids must be stored under a cover or in watertight containers. Outdoor auto repairs are illegal during a rainstorm, and all hazardous waste must be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site. Residents can dispose of household hazardous materials at the Poway Facility (858-668-4710) or the Vista Facility (800-714-1195). Spilled or leaking fluids should be cleaned up with an absorbent product (such as oil dry or kitty litter), swept up, and properly discarded.
It is illegal to allow any construction materials (such as paint, wood stain, or grout), or wash water from the cleaning of construction materials, to enter a storm drain. It is also illegal to discharge sediment in the streets or storm drains. If you have a small stockpile of sediment or other materials, you must make sure it is covered when not in use (you can secure a tarp over the pile). Keeping the material covered will protect it from rain and wind. You must also vegetate or secure, with appropriate erosion control materials, all bare areas so that they will be protected from erosion.Too much sediment or dirt in our water bodies chokes aquatic life by creating murky conditions, filling natural drainage areas, and altering the topography of the land. If you see construction materials or sediment coming off the property of any construction sites, immediately notify the City at 858-704-3652 or use the Report Urban Runoff Online Form found on the City's website and an inspector will arrive on site as soon as possible.To report other environmental concerns and report pollution incidents outside of the City of Del Mar, please contact the regional public hotline at 888-846-0800 (24 hours a day) or visit Project Clean Water for a listing of San Diego County jurisdiction hotline phone numbers. The City of Del Mar Public Works Department may also be contacted during normal business hours at 858-755-3294.
Water conservation and water quality protection go hand-in-hand. When planning new landscaped areas around your home, consider using drought tolerant plants or native plants, such as succulents and cacti. These use less water, and as a result less run-off from the garden enters into our storm drains. The use of drip-irrigation systems, soil moisture sensors to shut off sprinklers when not needed, and ensuring that sprinklers are turned off during rainstorms, all help!In addition, consider the use of alternatives to chemicals for management of garden pests. Too much pesticide used outdoors ends up in our lakes, beaches, and bays when it rains or when we over-water. The same with excess fertilizer - it can be too much of a good thing. Accidental contact with pesticides can also harm our pets and children. Information on Integrated Pest Management is available from the County of San Diego and from major lawn and garden centers throughout San Diego County.Lastly, if you see any potential contaminants entering the storm drains, immediately notify the City of Del Mar Clean Water Program at 858-704-3652 or use the Report Urban Runoff Online Form found on the City's website and an inspector will arrive on site as soon as possible. Of special concern are any of the following, or similar, potential sources of contaminants:
To report other environmental concerns and report pollution incidents outside of the City of Del Mar, please contact the regional public hotline at 888-846-0800 (24 hours a day) or visit Project Clean Water for a listing of San Diego County jurisdiction hotline phone numbers. The City of Del Mar Public Works Department may also be contacted during normal business hours at 858-755-3294.
For more information, please visit the Clean Water Information resource.