Stormwater Pollution

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Stormwater pollution is urban runoff water that has picked up pollutants as it flows through the storm drain system and empties directly into local waterways.

Urban runoff flows untreated through the storm drain system. Anything thrown, swept or poured into the street, gutter or a catch basin can flow directly into our channels, creeks, bays and ocean.

How Stormwater Pollution Affects Newport Beach Residents & Businesses

  • Contaminated urban runoff is an uncontrolled nonpoint source of pollution into local waters.
  • Litter, leaves and other debris clog catch basins, causing flooding when it rains. 
  • Stormwater pollution contributes to beach closures, which hurt local businesses and tourism.

Preventing Stormwater Pollution

Everyone in Newport Beach can help prevent stormwater pollution. Simple behavior changes are all it takes to prevent stormwater pollution, if we all do our part.


It is illegal for businesses without a permit to discharge wastewater or other materials into the storm drain system. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to navigable waters from a point source unless the discharge is authorized by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The 1987 passage of the Water Quality Act established NPDES permit requirements for discharges of stormwater. The NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.

Industrial facilities and construction sites are regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, through general stormwater permits. Cities and counties are regulated through permits issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Since 1990, operators of large storm drain systems such as Newport Beach's have been required to:

  • Develop a stormwater management program designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being dumped or washed by stormwater runoff, into the stormwater system, then discharged into local waterbodies; and
  • Obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

The NPDES permit programs in California are administered by the State Water Resources Control Board and by nine regional boards that issue NPDES permits and enforce regulations within their respective region.

Newport Beach lies within the jurisdiction of the Santa Ana Region. This regional board issues permits to the Orange County Permittees, which includes the County of Orange, Orange County Flood Control District and incorporated cities of Orange County. Since the program's inception, the County of Orange has served as the principal permittee.

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