Urban and Stormwater Runoff

What is Urban and Stormwater Runoff or Drainage?

When rain falls, or excess water is used, urban runoff drains through City of Huntington Park alleys and street gutters, into grated inlets and catch basins, which connect through storm drains and outfalls to the Los Angeles River. Regulators call this drainage infrastructure the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System or MS4. When the sanitary sewer and MS4 systems were constructed, many decades ago, people were primarily concerned with preventing flooding and sanitary sewage caused river water pollution.


Why is Urban and Stormwater Runoff a problem?

Since the population was smaller, yards larger, and rain infrequent, most rain soaked into the ground and there was little concern about urban runoff caused water pollution in the Los Angeles River. Today, urban runoff is a leading causes of water pollution, since it washes off and carries away the pollutants from our roofs, lawn, gardens, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, streets, and freeways. These pollutants includes lawn, garden, and pet wastes, trash and litter, paint, soap and grime from washed cars, oil and leaking automotive fluids, tire and brake pad dust, urban construction, maintenance, and many other aspects of modern society.

I thought waste water was treated?

Storm drains, before regulators renamed them MS4, were not meant to carry polluted sanitary sewage or toilet water, only runoff. While older cities have combined (sanitary and storm) sewer systems and large expensive treatment plants, Southern California built smaller sanitary sewage treatment facilities, while relatively clean storm water drained directly to the river. Unfortunately, polluted storm runoff has now become the next biggest problem.


What did Government do about this problem?

In 1969 the State of California adopted the Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act, while the United States Congress adopted the Federal Water Pollution Control (Clean Water) Act in 1972. While these laws first focused on the largest sources of pollution, they also identified controls for lesser sources of pollution, until rivers are again “fishable and swimmable”. By 1987, federal and state government began targeting stormwater runoff and by 1991 the Los Angeles Regional Quality Control Board (a state agency) issued the first Los Angeles County Municipal Stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit, mandating when, why, and how municipal governments discharges runoff. With exceptions for fire fighting, non-commercial car washing, clean pool water, and irrigation overspray, non-stormwater discharges are prohibited by the Permit and Huntington Park Municipal Code. You can find out more about current fourth term 2012 and proposed 2019 fifth term state MS4 Permits at: link

For information regarding the water quality efforts of other agencies, please visit the following websites:

Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board

California State Water Resources Control Board

United State Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program

and Clean Water Act 

What is the City of Huntington Park doing?

Since 1991, the City of Huntington Park has comprehensively implemented an Urban and Stormwater Management Program. The City, as a member of the Los Angeles River Upper Reach 2 Watershed Management Area (LAR UR2 WMA), along with the Cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Maywood, Vernon, and Los Angeles County Flood Control District, drafted and continues to implement a Watershed Management Program (WMP) Plan which can be found at: link

Led by the Department of Public Works, with assistance from the Gateway Water Management Authority, the City procured a grant to install catch basin trash collection devices and now cleans those devices twice annually. Street vacuuming (sweeping) collects litter and polluted dust from streets and gutters, before it can reach the Los Angeles River. As will be discussed further, the City contracts for permit required Industrial and Commercial Facility Inspections to assure that businesses do their part to control pollution. The Community Development Department provides erosion control guidance and inspects construction sites to reduce erosion and runoff, while Police Department Code Enforcement Officers enforce Municipal Code Title 7, Chapter 9, Stormwater Management 


Spill Reporting and Illegal Dumping Hotline 

During business hours, pollution spills can be reported to the City Public Works Department at (323) 584-6274 and Illegal Dumping to Code Enforcement at (323) 584-6254. During non-business hours, emergencies can be reported to the Los Angeles County 24-Hour Water Pollution Reporting Hotline at 888-CLEAN-LA, or the state environmental hotline


How Can I Help Huntington Park and the Environment?

Improving Los Angeles River water quality and the environment, by reducing urban stormwater runoff pollution, is a requirement of the MS4 Permit and shared responsibility of each resident, business, and the City of Huntington Park. These measures include:
• Residential Activities
• Commercial Activities 
• Industrial Activities 
• Redevelopment Activities
• Construction Activities