Stormwater Quality

Reports of Pollutant Discharges Down in 2020

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?


The year 2018/19 marked a shift in how illegal discharge events were recorded, leading to the appearance of fewer events compared to previous years. After dumping and debris events were omitted from the count beginning in 2018/19, there were 154 illegal discharges and spill events in 2018/19 and 123 in 2019/20. There were 11 illegal discharges requiring enforcement action, such as a notice of violation, fines, or verbal outreach and education. This equates to 9% of all illegal discharges reported.

San Bernardino Areawide Stormwater Program members conducted 3,262 inspections of industrial and commercial facilities and construction sites in 2019/20. This number of inspections represents a decline of 22% since 2018/19, which can be attributed to business closures as a result of the pandemic. Of the total number of inspections in 2019/20, 318 inspections (or 10%) resulted in deficiencies requiring corrective action.


Illegal Discharge, Dumping, and Spill Events in the Santa Ana River Basin (San Bernardino County portion), 2011-2020

Source: San Bernardino County Flood Control District Stormwater Program, Annual Report

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 of Commercial, Construction, and Industrial Facilities and Number with Deficiencies Requiring Enforcement Action, 2016-2020

Source: San Bernardino County Flood Control District Stormwater Program, Annual Report