Stormwater Management

Engineering & Planning

Engineering and Planning staff are responsible for restoration, protection, and preservation of surface waters and water quality within the City of Morro Bay as well as maintenance, repair, mapping, and evaluation of drainage systems within the public domain, including all street rights-of-way.

Staff reviews development applications to ensure they provide designs which are environmentally conscious, enhance water quality, and preserve and protect coastal waters and resources. All development and redevelopment projects which create or replace more than 2,500 square feet of impervious area must incorporate Stormwater Management controls as described in the Stormwater Management Guidance Manual for Low Impact Development and Post-Construction Requirements. 2 versions of the manual are available. The condensed EZ Manual is for individual single family homes. The Main Manual is used for all other projects. A Google Earth overlay is provided to precisely locate your projects Watershed Management Zone.

The Central Coast Low Impact Development Initiative developed a Bioretention Plant Palette Guidebook. This guidebook details presents a variety of planting palettes for residential, commercial and roadside stormwater features. This guidebook help anyone designing, installing, or revitalizing a bioretention planter.   

Stormwater Management Permit

The City of Morro Bay is in compliance with enrollment procedures under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for the discharge of stormwater from small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). The California Water Board's current Phase II Small MS4 General Permit became effective on July 1, 2013 (Order No. 2013-0001 DW).

For each year of the General Permit, the City must comply with a detailed list of requirements aimed at improving stormwater quality in the region. The requirements fall into 10 categories:

  1. Program Management
  2. Education and Outreach
  3. Public Participation and Involvement
  4. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE)
  5. Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control Program
  6. Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for City Operations
  7. Post-Construction Stormwater Management Program
  8. Water Quality Monitoring
  9. Program Effectiveness Assessment
  10. Total Maximum Daily Loads Compliance
  11. Annual Reporting

To assist in implementing the General Permit, the City of Morro Bay has compiled a Guidance Document (PDF) listing necessary tasks, compliance years, and notes on implementation. In addition to the new permit requirements, the City must also continue to fulfill the requirements outlined in the City's Stormwater Management Program (SWMP), which was developed under the previous General Permit.

Annual Reporting

Each year the City completes and submits an Annual Report online to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (CCRWQCB) via the California Water Board's SMARTS website. The Annual report verifies that the City has completed all the necessary tasks required by the General Permit for that year in order to achieve compliance.


The flood control program maintains all storm drain facilities and creeks on public property or easements within the City and coordinates emergency response during heavy storms. This program has 2 major activities:

  • Storm Drain and Creek Maintenance - Examples of the operations performed include: cleaning, clearing, stabilization and restorations of streams and channels; tail ditch work installation and maintenance of Rip Rap; and other miscellaneous erosion control measures and maintenance functions related to the open channels. 
  • Storm Emergency Response - The Stormwater Management Division provides monitoring and emergency response assistance during heavy storm events, ensuring that pollution prevention measures are maintained and functioning as intended to protect water quality.
  • Storm Preparedness - The City has prepared a Guide for Storm Preparation to assist our residents in preparing for the winter rains. You can also visit for more information.