Be a Storm Water Steward this winter and prepare your property for the rainy season. When it rains, pollution can flow from our yards or streets into storm drains, creeks, or the San Lorenzo River, all of which ultimately drain into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Follow these simple steps before the rain comes to help protect our watershed, keeping it clean and healthy for all!

Try implementing these actions, then share your photos with us on social media! Be sure to tag @SaveOurShores and @CitySantaCruz and use the hashtag #StormWaterSteward.

  1. Look around your yard and home and pick up litter, food wrappers, plastic bags, and other trash items. This will prevent the winter rain from carrying these items into storm drains, creeks, or the San Lorenzo River, all of which drain into Monterey Bay.

2. Look around your yard and home and pick up cigarette butts and dispose of them properly in a garbage receptacle so rainwater doesn’t carry them into storm drains, creeks, or the San Lorenzo River, all of which drain into Monterey Bay. Please use gloves or grabbers when picking up cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are made of plastic and contain toxic chemicals such as arsenic and nicotine. They take years to decompose in the environment and can be extremely harmful to wildlife.

3. Dispose of single-use face masks and gloves in the trash. Don’t discard them in a parking lot or on the ground after use! Masks and other PPE items can entangle wildlife, making them immobile and causing them to become injured. Consider using re-usable face masks to reduce your waste, but always be sure to wash masks thoroughly between uses.

4. Pick up pet waste in your yard and dispose of it in the garbage to help keep bacteria out of storm drains, creeks, the San Lorenzo River and Monterey Bay.

5. Put leaves and yard waste into your green waste bin, don’t blow leaves into the street as this can clog storm drain inlets. Sweep driveways, patios, and walkways rather than hosing them down into the gutters and storm drains.

6. Avoid using chemical pesticides and herbicides in your yard or on your lawn before it rains! Try using less toxic alternatives instead.

7.  Bring construction materials indoors or cover & contain them so that rain doesn’t wash them away.

8. Don’t overstuff your bins or allow them to overflow. Make sure your bins are closed all the way and properly secured to prevent wildlife from getting into them. Please don’t place them over storm drain inlets.

Where does the flow go? Explore how water moves across our landscape, the interconnectedness of our waterways and planet, the threats facing our watersheds, and how we can all contribute to a healthy watershed that supports thriving ecosystems and human populations.

Help protect our watershed and oceans by pledging to reduce your use of single-use plastic! Sign the pledge by clicking here. You will receive an email from Save Our Shores with tips to get you started on your reduced-waste journey!

This outreach campaign is supported by the City of Santa Cruz. Learn more about the City of Santa Cruz’s storm water management by clicking here.