Stormwater Quality

Illegal Pollutant Discharges into Storm Drains Decrease in 2018

Stormwater pollution refers to urban water runoff that picks up pollutants as it flows through the storm drain system – a network of channels, gutters, and pipes that collect rain and snowmelt. Eventually, the runoff empties untreated directly into local rivers and lakes. Pollutants in stormwater runoff, such as litter, pet waste, motor oil, paint, anti-freeze, pesticides, fertilizers, and toxic household chemicals, can have serious effects. They can contaminate drinking water supplies and harm the local environment and wildlife. Trash and debris accumulated in catch basins may create foul odors and attract pests. Flooding may also occur due to blocked storm drains during heavy rain events. Effective stormwater management reduces pollution, blocked drains, and flooding. To track stormwater quality management in the Santa Ana River watershed, this indictor shows reports of illegal discharges of pollutants into surface waterways and storm drains. Also measured are enforcement actions and facility inspections.

Storm Water Quality

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Illegal Discharge, Dumping and Spill Events in the Santa Ana River Basin

San Bernardino County portions 2009-2018
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Source: San Bernardino County Flood Control District Stormwater Program, Annual Report

There was an decrease in the number of illegal discharge, dumping and spill event reports in the Santa Ana River watershed in San Bernardino County in 2017/18:

  • There were 419 illegal discharge reports in 2017/18, the second highest in 10 years.
  • While the number of reports varies from year to year, this year marks a 40% increase in reports since 2009.
  • There were 134 illegal discharges requiring enforcement action, such as a notice of violation, fines, or verbal outreach and education. This equates to 32% of all illegal discharges reported.
  • San Bernardino Areawide Stormwater Program members conducted 4,305 inspections of industrial and commercial facilities and construction sites in 2017/18. Of this total, 1,406 inspections (or 33%) resulted in deficiencies requiring corrective action.

What Contributes to Illegal Discharge Reporting?

Increases in reports of illegal discharges can be attributed to population growth and greater public awareness that leads to more incident reporting, while decreases can be attributed to fewer severe weather events leading to debris blockage as well as improved public compliance with posted signs and laws related to dumping.

San Bernardino Areawide Stormwater Program Inspections

Commercial, Construction and Industrial Facilities and Number with Deficiencies Requiring Enforcement Action, 2014-2018
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Source: San Bernardino County Flood Control District Stormwater Program, Annual Report

Graywater Program Conducts Survey and Increases Outreach

Graywater is the relatively clean water from baths, sinks, laundry, and kitchen appliances. County ordinance requires graywater to be kept on the property because discharge into the street can harm the environment and infrastructure. A 2018 a survey of unincorporated areas in the Valley Region conducted by the County of San Bernardino Public Works NPDES team found that several neighborhoods have higher concentrations of graywater discharges. These neighborhoods also have higher amounts of illegal dumping. The NPDES team determined that many residents in these areas neither knew that these discharges are illegal nor understood California requirements, so an effort was made to increase awareness and education through updated flyers in both English and Spanish. The flyers encourage residents to use their graywater to water plants as a means of complying with the law.

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