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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Urban Runoff

This is a big cistern

Millions of gallons of polluted stormwater will be diverted from entering the Santa Monica Bay by the massive cistern constructed at this advantageous location in the local watershed.

Urban runoff, the surface water from our yards, driveways, and streets that flows through storm drains, is the greatest single source of pollution to the beaches and near-shore waters of the Santa Monica Bay. Unlike sewage and discharges from industrial sources, urban runoff cannot always be adequately treated before it reaches the bay and our beaches. The EPA has a list of many easy things that can be done at home and at work to help to reduce or eliminate this pollution problem. Urban runoff includes dry weather runoff and wet weather flows from rain-storm events. The oversight of urban runoff is called Watershed Management.
By reducing the quantity of runoff and improving the quality of runoff, we lower levels of harmful bacteria, toxics, and other forms of pollutants affecting the bay. Reducing the amount of urban runoff and the amount of pollutants contained in the runoff are essential for the health and safety of our community. A cleaner bay means a healthier marine ecosystem and improved quality of life for residents, and increases Santa Monica’s appeal to visitors and businesses.

Urban Runoff 101: an Introduction
Rain Gutter

Curbing the Flow

If you have a spare fifteen minutes and want a comprehensive look at what the City of Santa Monica is doing to manage Urban Runoff, you are invited to watch Curbing the Flow, produced in partnership with CityTV.

More Informative Videos

For some terrific practical information with hands-on visuals about the causes and impacts of urban runoff pollution and potential solutions, check out the RiverSmart videos, produced by the Washington, DC District Department of the Environment. The videos cover different ways you can reduce urban runoff and its pollution using environmentally-responsible, sustainable methods.

RiverSmart videos on YouTube, including a five part series on Stormwater
. Most of these solutions can be replicated in Southern California, though we get less rain and fewer rainy days during the year.

ARCSA is your rainwater harvesting resource.  Visit for listing of installers, to learn how to become certified to become an installer or inspector and more.    


Rain Harvest Rebate Program

 Small Cistern
Harvesting rainwater protects the Bay from runoff and makes watering your yard fun.  

If that's not enough incentive, how about receiving a generous rebate?  


Matrix 2.0 Alternative Water Guidelines 

 Matrix Document Banner
download (pdf)
New roadmap for decentralized, alternate water supplies - indoor and outdoor non-potable water regulations streamlined for rainwater, graywater, stormwater, blackwater use.
KCRW 89.9 Story

City of Santa Monica © 2021

Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626