Urban stormwater management in the City of Scotts Valley

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Image 1. View of Carbonera Creek - Branciforte Creek intersection


Scotts Valley is a small city within Santa Cruz County, California, located approximately six miles north of the city of Santa Cruz. Scotts Valley lies within the San Lorenzo River watershed [1], with the primary land use represented by medium- to low-density residential development with a growing commercial/industrial sector [2]. Carbonera Creek, a perennial stream that eventually flows into the San Lorenzo River, is the central waterway and main recipient of urban storm water within Scotts Valley.The city of Scotts Valley published a Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) in 2009 in accordance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit requirements for small Municipal Seperate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) [3].


Local Regulatory Background

Scotts Valley Municipal Code

Chapter 12.14: Stormwater and Urban Runoff Pollution Control


Resources at Stake

The most common pollutants entering the Carbonera Creek via storm water runoff within Scotts Valley include sediment, pesticides and herbicides, nutrients, heavy metals, toxins, oil and grease, solvents, viruses, and bacteria [4]. These pollutants impair waterways physically, through sediment transport affecting turbidity and flow rate, and biologically, through nitrification and exposure of harmful toxins to the biological community. Steelhead, listed as a threatened species under the ESA, are commonly found within the San Lorenzo river and its tributaries; impairment of riparian habitats within the San Lorenzo River Watershed could significantly affect the rehabilitation of Steelhead within this region [5].

Management Strategies

The following lists Scotts Valley's Best Management Practices (BMPs) for storm water runoff, as listed by the Scotts Valley SWMP of 2009 [6]:

BMP 1: Public Education and Outreach

  • The Public Education and Outreach program achieves public outreach through thBrochures
  • Children's Educational Program
  • Local Events
  • Storm Water Information on the City's Website
  • Evaluate Community Based Marketing Strategies
  • Education/Outreach for Commercial Activities

BMP 2: Public Involvement and Participation

  • Storm Drain Labeling
  • Storm Water Hotline
  • Interagency Coordination
  • Public Meetings

BMP 3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

  • Non Storm Water Discharge
  • Develop a Storm Water Ordinance that Addresses Illicit Discharge
  • Maintain a Master Storm Drain Map
  • Illicit Discharge/Connection Investigation and Abatement
  • Respond to Reported Spills, Sewer Overflows and Illegal Discharges

BMP 4: Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control

  • Grading Ordinance
  • Construction Site Inspections
  • Public Comment

BMP 5: Post-Construction Storm Water Management in New and Re-developments

  • Enforceable Mechanisms
  • Project Review Process
  • Post Construction BMP Inspection
  • Hydromodification Control Criteria
  • Applicability Thresholds
  • Implementation Strategy for LID and Hydromodification Control
  • Long Term Watershed Protection
  • TMDL for Carbonera Creek and Camp Evers Tributary

BMP 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

  • City Storm Drain Maintenance
  • Street Sweeping Operations
  • Citywide BMPs
  • Municipal Inspections
  • Training

BMP 7: Program Effectiveness Assessment



  1. Santa Cruz County Watersheds
  2. City of Scotts Valley Zoning Map
  3. City of Scotts Valley Storm Water Management Plan, 2009
  4. City of Scotts Valley Storm Water Management Plan, 2009
  5. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Species Profile
  6. City of Scotts Valley Storm Water Management Plan, 2009


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