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Storm Water

It’s Up to Us

Storm water is just what it sounds like: water from a storm, including rain, hail, and snow. Storm water can soak into the ground or go into a water way. Or, it can land on surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, and streets, and trickle (or flood) through the storm drain system.

What is the Storm Drain System?

The purpose of the storm drain system is to carry rainfall runoff from city streets to local waterways. You'll see the system in action after a rainy day or night. Rain that doesn't seep into the earth flows into gutters and drains, through under pipes or open ditches and discharges untreated into local streams, rivers and other surface water bodies. Storm drain inlets are typically found in curbs and low-lying outdoor areas.

The storm drain system is NOT the sewer. Anything that goes into the storm drain system flows directly into our local waterways, including the Petaluma River and, eventually, San Pablo Bay.

Pollution Prevention is Important

These storm drains are connected to our local waterways. That means pollutants such as litter, fertilizers, sediment, animal waste, and oil and grease can be picked up by runoff and washed into our creeks, and eventually the San Francisco Bay. That’s not only harmful to those critters that depend on our waterways, it also has the potential to impact public health and diminish local recreational opportunities.

How Can You Help?

Report Illegal Dumping
If you see someone dumping anything (oil, caustic items, or any other items) into a storm drain, creek or the river, please report it to the Petaluma Police Department immediately at 707-778-4372. Storm drain pollution should also be reported to Water Resources and Conservation at 707-778-4546.

Manage Your Landscape, Gardening, and Construction

  • Collect lawn and garden clippings, pruning waste, and tree trimmings. In the City of Petaluma, yard waste pickup is available through Recology; check what the collection requirements are.
  • Do not blow or rake leaves into the street or place yard waste in gutters or on dirt shoulders.
  • Be careful to control erosion and minimize runoff to all driveways, gutters, and storm drains.
  • Schedule grading and excavation projects during dry weather.
  • Cover excavated material and stockpiles of asphalt, sand, etc. with plastic tarps during the rainy season.
  • Replant as soon as possible, with temporary vegetation such as annual grass seed if necessary. Revegetation provides excellent erosion control.
  • Take care not to over apply pesticides, and use up leftover supply. Rinse empty containers, and use rinse water as you would use the product. Dispose of empty rinsed containers in the trash.
  • Dispose of unused pesticide at the Sonoma County Household Waste Drop-off Site.
photo of Petaluma River

As individuals and as a community, we have a responsibility to protect the storm water ecosystem by preventing pollution in storm drain system.

- Kent Carothers, Deputy Director, Operations

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