Thanks to the Santa Monica Restoration Bay Project, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems document was translated into easy to understand language.


Urban and storm water runoff is a serious concern, in both dry and rainy season. It is contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, animal droppings, trash, food wastes, automotive byproducts and other toxic substances that are part of our urban environment. Waters that flow over streets, parking lots, construction sites and industrial facilities carry these pollutants through a 5,000-mile storm drain network directly to the lakes, streams and beaches of Southern California.

Urban runoff is the largest source of unregulated pollution to the waterways and coastal areas of the United States. Locally, we see the impacts in increased health risks to swimmers near storm drains, high concentrations of toxic metals in harbor and ocean sediments, and toxicity to aquatic life.

These impacts translate into losses to the County’s $2 billion a year tourism economy, loss of recreational resource, dramatic cost increases for cleaning up contaminated sediments and impaired function and vitality of our natural resources.


The Clean Water Act of 1987 established requirements for storm water discharges under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System NPDES) program. In response to those requirements, the State of California issued a five-year permit for municipal storm water discharges to Los Angeles County in June 1990.

The 1990 permit was very general in nature, resulting in storm water programs that varied widely from city to city. The 1996 permit, a reissuance of the 1990 permit, therefore seeks to provide better direction by specifying actions needed to comply with permit requirements.

This permit is the result of one and a half years of discussions between representatives of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, three smaller cities, and the environmental community. It also incorporates extensive comments received from all interested parties on two earlier drafts.


  • To attain and protect the beneficial uses of water bodies in Los Angeles County;
  • To reduce pollutants in stormwater to the maximum extent practicable; and
  • To evaluate compliance with the objectives and requirements contained in the permit.


In general, the permit requires implementation of both the Storm Water Management Program contained in the permit, the elements of the Countywide Stormwater Management Plan (CSWMP) or Watershed Management Area Plans (WMAP) that will be developed pursuant to the permit.


The Countywide Storm Water Management Plan
and Water Management Area Plans

Much of the permit details the Storm Water Management Program elements and "what" should be induded in the CSWMP. Developing the specified program elements will require that Permittees determine "how" actions will be implemented. Program elements, once developed, will then be compiled into the unified implementation plan known as the CSWMP.

The Watershed Management Area Plans are to be devdoped later in the permit cycle. They are based on the requirements of the permit and the CSWMP, but will also indude actions that address water quality problems and concerns that are unique to the six watershed areas of Los Angeles County. Once developed and approved, the WMAP superceded the CSWMP.

The storm water management program is comprised of seven elements, the objectives of which are to:

  1. Effectively manage and coordinate implementation of the storm water program;
  2. Identify and eliminate illicit connections and illicit discharges to the storm drain system;
  3. Reduce storm water impacts associated with development and redevelopment projects;
  4. Reduce storm water quality impacts associated with public agency activities;
  5. Increase public knowledge about the impacts of storm water pollution and about actions that can be taken to prevent pollution.
  6. Increase knowledge and understanding about the quality, quantity, sources, and impacts of urban runoff; and
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of implementing storm water management programs.