The City storm drain system provides for storm water runoff from City streets along gutters and through underground pipes to discharge into waterways and ocean. The system is designed for the control of flooding only and does not provide any treatment to the storm water runoff. Storm water entering drains flows directly into local creeks, the Salinas River and the Monterey Bay.
Repair and maintenance of the storm water collection system including grates, manhole lids, outfalls into local creeks is provided by the Public Works Department. The collections system staff maintains the sewer systems. They also maintains 2000 storm drain inlets, 50 miles of storm water pipeline, and 1 sewer lift station located on Villa Drive. These dedicated employees are often called out during our worst storms to keep all systems operating smoothly to prevent flooding.
What is Stormwater?
Stormwater is defined as “Runoff Water resulting from Precipitation”. It can contain, however, a variety of pollutants that can harm and hamper our environment to a greater degree than was previously thought. Everything from oil spills, gasoline dripping from a nozzle, pesticides being applied and wash water coming from washing a car or truck eventually ends up in our local waterways. In times, these pollutants then find their way into the Monterey Bay and add up with the multitude of other stormwater runoffs to kill off the aquatic life there.
Our ecosystem is a circular one, as depicted in the diagram above. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, we have to reuse our most precious resource, water. The water that rains down on us picks up pollutants and deposits them in our waterways before it evaporates
back into the clouds. When it does so, it increases the pollutant concentration in our waterways, as the pollutants do not evaporate, but accumulate instead.
What Goes Aground, Sticks Around!
Impervious ground cover such as asphalt and concrete that accompany urban areas create problems with the water from precipitation recycling through our ecosystem. The water runs off too fast for natural evaporation/transportation and/or groundwater recharge to take place. In the process of running off, the water picks up the oils and other pollutants that are on the paved surfaces. Even something as simple as pet waste left on a sidewalk makes an impact on the waters around us.
The City of King has a network of pipes to handle our rain water. This includes underground systems as well as above ground ditches, culverts, wetlands, creeks and rivers. Whenever you see water flowing during a storm, that water, along with anything it carries, will end up
eventually in the Monterey Bay.
Why is it a concern?
Stormwater picks up any and all pollutants that are on the ground when it precipitates. Chemicals, debris, dirt and other pollutants flow with stormwater into either a storm sewer system or directly into lakes, streams, creeks, rivers and eventually the Monterey Bay and
Pacific Ocean. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the water bodies we use for swimming, fishing, and for providing drinking water.
Sediment – Excess sediment is a serious pollutant. When it enters our creeks, rivers and wetlands it clouds the water. This clouding prevents plant life from getting sunlight, without which they die. Sediment can also clog fish gills and kill them. Vegetative buffers act as a filter, slowing stormwater flow and allowing groundwater penetration. They also prevent the loss of topsoil and deposition of silt and sediment into the waterways.
Excess Nutrients (fertilizers) – By far the biggest contributor to the poor state of the Monterey Bay to date, excess nutrients can cause algae blooms to grow out of control. When these blooms die, they decompose on the bottom of the waterway. While decomposing, they
use up large amounts of oxygen in the process, which in turn kills fish and other aquatic life forms that need oxygen to survive. Simple things like following the directions on fertilizer products and fertilizing your lawn in the Fall instead of the Spring can make a impact on reaching the Bay. The City provides a great resource for residents to get expert advice on how to properly take care of their lawn.
Fall fertilization is superior for a few reasons:
- The amount of rain in the Spring is much greater, taking more of the fertilizer with it into the waterways and less stays on your lawn.
- Disease and weed problems are usually less severe when Fall and late Fall fertilization are practiced.
- Heat and drought tolerance are usually better, enhancing the summer lawn quality.
- Grass plant produces more root mass and a deeper root system which results in an overall healthier plant.
What Goes Aground, Sticks Around!
Debris – Bags, bottles, plastic six-pack rings, and even cigarette butts washed into water bodies can choke, suffocate and disable aquatic life such as ducks, fish, turtles and birds. The #1 thing people can do to help protect our waterways is to STOP POLLUTING.
Household Chemicals – Pesticides, paints, solvent, used motor oil and other fluids can poison and kill aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
Drinking Water – Polluted Stormwater can affect drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
If you stop and think about it, the water we drink today has been around for millions of years. Over time, Mother Nature can filter out pollutants and impurities. But if you overload the system, it takes longer and longer for the water to be cleaned. Our impact on this filtration
system can result in damaging these aquatic systems. Each individual needs to take an active part in preventing our waters from being polluted in the first place.
Recreational Waters – Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
Please remember, ditches and storm drains are not connected to the sanitary sewer system. Whatever you put into ditches, street drains and even onto your lawn flows immediately into our recreational waters whenever there is a significant rain. We must all assume accountability for keeping pollutants out of our waters.
What Goes Aground, Sticks Around!
How does it affect me?
From destroying the local habitats of wildlife to spreading possible diseases, Stormwater pollution is a problem that has a wide scope of consequences:
- Mosquito breeding – clogged water ways give mosquitoes more places to breed. Many types of mosquitoes that can spread diseases to humans, prefer to breed in polluted water.
- Lack of seafood – one of the most precious local resources in this region is the seafood – crabs, oysters, fish, clams all are becoming depopulated to a dangerous point due to pollution of the waterways. If things don’t improve soon, the seafood from the Monterey Bay and the surrounding waterways could cease to exist.
What are the local regulations?
King City is committed to protecting the health and safety of individuals by reducing surface water quality degradation caused by stormwater runoff. The City regulates storm water to ensure the City is compliant with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Regional Municipal Stormwater Permit. More information about the local regulations can be found on the following pages:
- Public Outreach and Education
- Public Involvement and Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site BMPs
- Post-Construction Requirements
What is King City doing to improve the situation?
King City is taking various steps to improve the storm water situation, including the following:
- The City makes efforts to raise public awareness about storm water pollution. (See “Public Outreach and Education” page for more information.)
- City staff undergoes periodic storm water training education.
- The City has developed procedures to address illicit discharges flowing into the storm drain system.
- City staff conducts periodic sampling at outfalls flowing into San Lorenzo Creek and into the Salinas River
- The City provides citizens with BMP brochures to help prevent storm water pollution:
How do you deal with storm water and what can I do to help?
There are many seemingly harmless household activities that actually wreak havoc with our water system. You can deal with storm water by implementing your own “Best Management Practices” (BMP’s) around the house. BMP’s are a general term applicable to any means, practice or technique that aims to significantly reduce or eliminate stormwater pollution.
Ten (10) things you can do to help prevent Stormwater Runoff Pollution:
- Never dump anything down storm drains or in streams
- Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides is a major cause of stormwater pollution. Remember that what you put on your lawn eventually finds its way into our area creeks, rivers and the Monterey Bay. So use fertilizers and herbicides sparingly.
- Vegetate bare spots in your yard.
- Dumping your collected leaves, grass clippings and other yard wastes into ditches, or other storm drains causes serious drainage problems, as well as deteriorating the Bay. Compost your yard waste.
- Use least toxic pesticides, and follow label instructions.
- Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; consider a rain garden to capture runoff.
- Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
- Check your car for leaks and recycle your used motor oil.
- Pick up after your pet waste. (pet waste is responsible for over 40% of the fecal contamination polluting our waterways).
- Have your septic tank pumped at least every 5 years.