We’ve had a lot of opportunity lately to watch the rain come down. After it hits the ground, though, where does it go?
Stormwater sometimes runs down a gutter before flowing into the street.
It joins water that is running off other streets and sidewalks, and makes its way into a storm drain like this one.
It picks up natural debris, like leaves and sticks, as well as anything else in its path.
That water eventually drains out into Morro Bay.
To keep yourself safe from fast-flowing water and higher bacteria levels, it’s a good idea to stay out of the water for at least 72 hours after it rains.
There are also things that you can do to help make sure that the water flowing into the bay is as clean as possible.
Go to the car wash
If your car windows are getting grimy, or the birds have been flying over your hood, you might be thinking about washing your car. Instead of hauling out the hose and bucket at home, head to a local car wash. Car washes recycle their water, using fresh water only when necessary.
Because of their water reclamation systems, professional car washes use an average of 9 to 15 gallons of fresh water per vehicle, while washing your car at home can 40 gallons if you use a sprayer nozzle and 140 with a free-flowing hose.
Washing your car at home also allows soap, brake dust, and oil to wash into storm drains and out into the bay, while those substances are typically captured by professional car washes.
Dispose of unused or outdated chemicals properly
Gather old household chemicals and bring them to the dump. This includes paint, oil, antifreeze, pool chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and more. These chemicals can cause health concerns for people and animals if they end up in our waters.
For more information on hazardous waste disposal, visit the Integrated Waste Management Authority’s website.
Pick up after your pet
About 281,000 people live in San Luis Obispo County and more than 62,000 dogs (roughly 1 dog per 4.5 people) make their homes here, with about 5,500 dogs located in Morro Bay and Los Osos. That means that over 19,000 pounds (or 9.5 tons) of dog poop are created each week in these two towns alone.
If you consider that an average-size dog dropping produces nearly twice as much bacteria as human waste, all of that dog poop starts to sound like a health hazard. And it can be, if it’s left on the ground.
When it rains, waste can seep into the ground and wash into local storm drains and waterways, ending up in the bay. The bacteria from all this waste can be harmful to people and to the environment.
If you forget to bring a bag with you when you and your dog are out on a walk, stop at one of the 27 dog waste bag dispensers throughout the Morro Bay area that are stocked and supported through our Mutts for the Bay program in partnership with the City of Morro Bay and many generous donors.
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