Stormwater runoff is a significant source of pollutants to the Bay. Pollutants such as trash, litter, sand, sediment, petroleum products leaking from motor vehicles, heavy metals in the dust from motor vehicle brake pads and diesel exhaust, animal feces, excess fertilizers and pesticides, and others are carried to the Bay by urban runoff as a result of rain or excessive irrigation, or other sources of water in the urban environment. The major inputs of stormwater to San Diego Bay include the Sweetwater River, Otay River, Switzer Creek, Chollas Creek, Paradise Creek, and all the surface runoff from downtown San Diego and other urbanized areas discharged through approximately 200 storm drain outlets.
The urbanized areas around San Diego Bay and throughout the San Diego Bay Watershed require continual efforts to reduce or eliminate sources of pollution that can be carried by rainfall runoff to the bay. The Stormwater Management Program of the Environmental Services Department is a major element of the Port of San Diego's commitment to preventing, reducing, and eliminating the discharge of polluted stormwater into San Diego Bay.
This picture illustrates the "first flush" into Chollas Creek from a few years ago. This is the result of the season's first rain. All of the big visible trash is the tip of the iceberg -- what you're not seeing are all of the microscopic pollutants such as bacteria, grease, oil, metals, pesticides and fertilizers.
When heavy rain falls, the Port of San Diego's Environmental Services Department heads outdoors and right into the eye of the storm.
Donning rain gear, members of the Stormwater Management Program span out across the tidelands to collect samples of stormwater runoff during the "first flush," which represents runoff produced during the first few hours of the storm.