3.3 – Education and Outreach

Management Measure

Implement educational programs to provide greater understanding of watersheds and to raise awareness and increase the use of applicable urban management measures and practices to control and prevent adverse impacts on surface and ground waters. Public education, outreach, and training programs should involve targeted groups in the community. Implementation of urban pollution prevention and education programs includes the following subjects:

  1. Households
    Improper storage, use, and disposal of household hazardous chemicals, including automobile fluids, pesticides, paints, and solvents; lawn and garden activities, including the application and disposal of lawn and garden care products, and improper disposal of leaves and yard trimmings; improper operation and maintenance of onsite disposal systems; and improper disposal of pet excrement.
  2. Landscaping
    Turf management on golf courses and in parks and recreational areas.
  3. Commercial
    Commercial activities, including parking lots, restaurants, vehicle service facilities, and other entities.
  4. Municipal
    Discharge of pollutants (including floatables, waste oil, and litter) into storm drains; roads, highways, and bridges.

Pollution prevention practices are those that seek to educate the public on the potential for everyday activities to create nonpoint source pollution. Pollution is generated by everyday household activities, commercial and residential lawn and garden care, commercial activities, pet waste, and trash. There are abundant opportunities to involve the public in NPS pollution management, including distributing educational materials, holding training sessions and workshops, involving the public in water resource-specific activities such as cleanups and festivals, and encouraging stakeholder involvement in water resource-related decisions via public hearings and meetings. These activities can be focused on high-priority water bodies, groups who contribute to pollution (e.g., lawn care professionals, homeowners with yards, pet owners), or specific demographic groups (e.g., Spanish-speaking populations, school children). Finally, municipalities should inform the public of local stewardship groups and encourage participation among them. Local governments can organize environmental stewardship groups that focus specifically on urban pollution prevention if they do not already exist. Increasing public participation in stewardship groups will help to better facilitate outreach and education and will result in greater buy-in by the community nonpoint source and storm water control efforts. In addition, educational programs that encourage environmental stewardship among younger populations can help to ensure long-term nonpoint source and watershed awareness and can help bring the stewardship message home to family members.

Management Practices

  • Household
    Everyday household chemicals can be considered pollutants if they are improperly handled, stored, or disposed of. Automotive substances, household cleaners, fertilizers, pesticides, and home improvement materials must all be carefully managed to prevent contamination of runoff or ground water. Car washing can flush nutrients, metals and hydrocarbons into storm drains. Watershed managers can address these problems through public outreach and education efforts such as pamphlet distribution, training on proper lawn care practices, and storm drain stenciling. Municipalities should also provide facilities for the disposal of household chemicals. In residential neighborhoods, pet waste can also be a major contributor to NPS pollution. Pet owners can be informed about proper disposal of waste, and municipalities can install "pet waste stations," pass and enforce “pooper scooper” ordinances, and post signs.
  • Landscaping
    Outreach campaigns should also inform both commercial lawn care specialists and residents of the importance of proper application of fertilizers and pesticides. In particular, techniques such as Integrated Pest Management and timing of fertilizer application should be emphasized to provide citizens with the tools to use these substances efficiently and reduce overall pesticide and fertilizer use.
  • Commercial
    One way commercial activities can generate NPS pollution is through the release of wastewater into a storm sewer system without a permit (this is known as an illicit discharge). Municipalities must develop programs to help detect and eliminate these illicit discharges, as well as educate businesses and their employees. Commercial and industrial establishments should also implement good housekeeping practices, employee education and training programs and spill prevention plans. Measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of spills or leaks during general operation, maintenance, washing, construction, or repairs and to limit the exposure of pollutants to areas where they might come in contact with storm water.
  • Municipal
    Municipalities should implement good housekeeping practices, including programs to control trash, debris collected from street sweeping, stockpiled material, and corporation yard pollutant sources, and reduce pollutants from activities such as park and road maintenance. Programs that reduce the amount of trash on the streets include public education, increased waste disposal facilities and cleanup campaigns. Municipalities can also clean streets and prevent trash from entering storm water with street sweeping and trash collection devices for storm drain inlets.


  • Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program (ACCWP) is a consortium of local agencies in Alameda County dedicated to preventing urban storm water pollution. The program grew out of a need to meet NPDES requirements and participate in the development of the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay region. The program engages in efforts to educate the general public, contractors, and government employees through the distribution of literature, information fairs, training workshops, and television ads. In addition, the consortium works to identify and correct illicit discharges into the storm water system.
  • Algalita Marine Research Foundation in collaboration with the SWRCB and CCC, Plastic Debris River to Sea Project, seeks to minimize the land-based discharges of marine debris. Just like ocean-based marine debris, land-based discharges of human-made debris are comprised mostly of plastics.
  • California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Home2Ocean Program provides information for residential users of pesticides on their proper use and disposal. The Home2Ocean workbook is a capacity-building resource for launching or conducting a public education program for preventing water pollution from household pesticides.
  • California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) Pollution Prevention (P2) Program provides resources for industry, local government, and other environmental agencies to promote source reduction and pollution prevention. This includes technology transfer, inspection/enforcement program support, and public outreach.
  • California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) provides assistance with solid waste minimization and pollution prevention. Material-specific guidance, educational materials, and information on financial assistance are provided for industry and the general public.
  • San Diego City’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program aims to reduce pollution in urban runoff through a variety of programs. These include public education, training programs, monitoring for water quality, watershed management, and the development and implementation of management practices.
  • San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program (STOPPP) serves as a community resource for pollution prevention, focusing on educating residential and business communities via publications on management practices, commercials, and training programs.

Information Resources

General Pollution Prevention Websites

  • California Coastal Commission, Model Urban Runoff Program (MURP) is a step-by-step guide designed for small municipalities to help them manage NPS pollution from urban runoff in California.
  • USEPA, Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC) is a free information service dedicated to reducing and eliminating industrial pollutants through technology transfer, source reduction, education and public awareness.

Educational Resources

  • Orange County Stormwater Program, Public Education has a variety of brochures that are available for download and distribution. These include general stormwater pollution prevention brochures to inform the community about the origins of non-point source pollution and pollutant and business specific brochures which provide Best Management Practice's guidelines for specific activities.
  • University of Wisconsin Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Best Education Practices Project helps natural resource management and outreach professionals to choose appropriate education techniques and resources for their water management programs. T he Best Education Practices project will work in collaboration with the federal agency clean and safe water partnership and other networks to develop and promote best education practices for water education and to improve access to education resources and strategies. Project activities reflect advice provided by federal agency clean and safe water partners and a national network of water education organizations created and supported by the work of several national organizations over the last decade. Projects have included a 2002 Study of Provider Needs, Model Education Technique, a literature search, Best Education Practices Pilot Website, and other reference materials related to water outreach education.
  • USEPA Watershed Academy offers 50 self-paced training modules that represent a basic and broad introduction to the watershed management field. The module themes include introduction/overview, watershed ecology, watershed change, analysis and planning, management practices, and community/social/water law. Eight Tools of Watershed Protection in Developing Areas describes ways in which nonpoint source managers can address pollution using planning, regulatory, and education techniques.

Residential Pollution Prevention (Household hazardous waste, lawn and garden care, pet waste, car washing)

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service, Backyard Conservation Tip Sheets provide information for homeowners on ways to reduce erosion and manage fertilizer and pesticide application for water quality protection.
  • Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center, Fact Sheets on Residential Pollution Prevention Practices describe various residential storm water pollution prevention practices, such as pet waste collection, car washing, lawn care, car maintenance, and rain barrels.

Municipal/Commercial Pollution Prevention

  • California Municipal Handbook contains information about storm water quality planning for municipal operations, including permit requirements, planning principles, techniques for reducing runoff and managing impervious areas, source controls, runoff treatment controls, staff training, and inspections and maintenance.
  • California Department of Transportation, Maintenance Storm Water Pollution Prevention Bulletin is a monthly bulletin that provides technical information on management practices for municipal maintenance activities.
  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), CalGOLD - Permit Assistance Centers assists in providing businesses the information they need to comply with environmental and other regulatory and permitting requirements.
  • Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center, Fact Sheets on Municipal Pollution Prevention Practices provide general information on a variety of stormwater management practices that municipalities and institutions can apply in across the community as a whole. The primary goal of each pollution prevention practice is to reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater runoff. To the extent practicable, the fact sheets address pollution prevention measures that can easily be incorporated into existing municipal programs and routine institutional maintenance activities such as street sweeping and catchbasin cleaning.
  • USEPA, National Menu of Best Management Practices for Storm Water Phase II, Public Education and Outreach on Stormwater Impacts provides information on BMPs based on the Stormwater Phase II Rule's six minimum control measures. Most stormwater runoff is generated from dispersed land surfaces—pavements, yards, driveways, and roofs—efforts to control stormwater pollution must consider individual, household, and public behaviors and activities that can generate pollution from these surfaces. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping Operations provides information on BMPs to contain spills, manage trash, and handle nonstormwater discharges.
  • USEPA, Phase II Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping Fact Sheet describes general requirements and provides guidance for the Phase II Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping minimum control measures.

Public Participation Resources

  • American Forest Foundation, Project Learning Tree is designed to develop students’ ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues and instill in students the commitment to take responsible action on behalf of the environment. The Project’s Website offers environmental curricula, links to additional resources, grants for educators to implement community action and service-learning projects, and the GreenWorks! Connecting Community Action and Service Learning Guide, which provides guidance to educators on how to partner with business, nonprofit, and other community organizations for environmental action projects and to involve students in service learning activities.
  • Arbor Day Foundation, National Tree Trust provides resources that educate and empower people to grow and care for urban and community forests. The Seeds Program provides grants to urban and community forest organizations for day-to-day operations and offers leadership training, while the Roots Program provides grants to assist project implementation. To date, the National Tree Trust has mobilized nearly $8 million for urban and community forestry-related programs across California.
  • California Stormwater Quality Association, California Stormwater BMP Handbook: Storm Drain Signage provides general information regarding storm drain signage/stencils, this fact sheet outlines design considerations and overall maintenance for these signs.
  • USEPA, National Menu of Best Management Practices for Storm Water Phase II, Public Involvement builds on community capital, the wealth of interested citizens and groups, to help spread the message on preventing stormwater pollution, to undertake group activities that highlight storm drain pollution, storm drain marking, and contribute volunteer community actions to restore and protect local water resources.


Lehner, P.H., G.P. Aponte Clarke, D.M. Cameron, and A.G. Frank. 1999. Stormwater Strategies: Community Responses to Runoff Pollution. Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY.

USEPA. 2005. National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas. EPA 841-B-05-004. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

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