City of San Carlos - Stormwater
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Stormwater Program

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Stormwater runoff occurs when rainfall flows over the ground.  Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, roofs, and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground.

Stormwater runoff can be a pollution problem because it picks up debris, dirt, chemicals or other pollutants and flows into a storm drain system or directly into a lake, stream, river, wetland or coastal water.  Stormwater is not treated before it enters a waterbody like wastewater from the sewer system.

The goal of the San Carlos Stormwater Program is to ensure we are meeting the stormwater requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and to maintain the storm drainage system.  The services provided under this program include the following:

  • Clean stormwater inlets and pipes
  • Creek monitoring and cleaning
  • Levee maintenance
  • Storm drain maintenance and repair
  • Laurel Street sidewalk cleaning

Street sweeping and parking lot cleaning, which is related to the Stormwater program, is funded by the solid waste franchise fee.

Watershed Maps are now available from multiple sites on the Internet

For more information on stormwater, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This unit also completes monthly discharge and compliance reports.  To meet the goals of the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program
,  all storm water catch basins must be inspected annually and debris removed as needed.

San Carlos does not have a formal stormwater utility district. Improvements to and maintenance of stormwater management facilities are becoming a greater financial burden to cities in California. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements (administered by the California State Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB)) and aging infrastructure are the two greatest sources of these escalating costs.

Unfortunately, California does not treat stormwater as a utility the way every other western state does. In general, when one thinks of a utility, one assumes that a utility may set rates for users and collect money based on those rates to create a revenue stream. Since the passage of California State Proposition 218 in 1996, in California this is not the case. Sewage, solid waste, and water utilities may set user rates (through a process with the Public Utilities Commission that includes a public hearing, but does not require a public vote) and collect revenue. All other utilities, including stormwater, must go through a voter approval process to establish and collect fees. The City may go through the same voter approval process to establish and collect stormwater fees without taking the step of forming a utility.

There are a variety of funding mechanisms that cities in California have employed to provide the funds necessary to improve, manage, and maintain stormwater management facilities and activities. These mechanisms all require some form of voter approval.

San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Estuary Report

The Estuary Report is an on-line source for news and information about issues impacting San Francisco Bay, from fish and wildlife to watersheds and wetlands; the Delta, habitat restoration, oil pollution and legislation. Reports provide background, perspective and context to more fully understand these important issues.

For more information, please visit the San Francisco Estuary Report website by clicking here. If you would like to view the Estuary Report on youtube, please click here.

The funding for the Estuary Report comes from the Clean Water Act Section 320 which describes the National Estuary Program administered by the EPA.