4.1E – Marina Siting and Design – Storm Water Runoff

Management Measure

Implement effective runoff control strategies, which include the use of pollution prevention activities and the proper design of marinas and boat maintenance areas (including parking areas). Reduce the average annual loadings of total suspended solids (TSS) in runoff from these areas to meet or sustain water quality objectives.

Storm water runoff is rainfall that washes over the surface of the land picking up pollutants as it travels. Storm water runoff may collect and transport soil particles, petroleum products, metals and residues from hull cleaning operations, bacteria, excess nutrients, pesticides, pet waste, litter and debris to adjacent waterways. These pollutants are generally found to degrade water quality. While marina waters are often contaminated with storm water pollutants from non-marina and boating sources (upland sources), these pollutants may also be discharged by the marina itself as a result of vehicular traffic, equipment operation, lawn care and landscaping, and shore-side boat maintenance activities. Toxic materials from paint chips and sanding debris, as well as oil and grease from boat maintenance yards and parking lots wash into marinas from storm water. Many marinas do not have filtration between the marina and the waterbody.

Management Practices

  • Structural Practices
    Increasing vegetation is an easy way to slow runoff and naturally remove pollutants from storm water. Crushed stone paving, sand filters, wet ponds, grassy swales, and traps can be used to catch solids from runoff, and should be installed in particular between impervious areas and the marina basin. Install lawn and garden buffers along the bulkhead to act as natural filters and add beauty to the facility. Where possible, minimize paved surfaces next to the bulkhead to allow rain to soak into the ground instead of running into the water. Finally, construct or restore wetlands where feasible and practical. Pollutants can also be captured and filtered out of runoff water with permeable tarps, screens, and filter cloths. Install simple oil traps with absorption pillows and debris filters between the work areas and the bulkhead to protect the water quality. Absorbent pillows and filters collect what sweeping misses, like oils and solvents. Install oil/grit separators to capture petroleum spills and coarse sediment. Finally, use catch basins where storm water flows to the marina basin in large pulses (these should be designed by an engineer).
  • Good Housekeeping
    Do as much maintenance work as possible indoors away from rain and runoff. For outdoor work, provide clearly designated land areas away from the water and insist on their use. Also, perform abrasive blasting and sanding in spray booths or tarp enclosures to prevent the wind from taking debris to the water. Restrict the type and amount of do-it-yourself work done at the marina. Clean hull maintenance areas immediately after any maintenance to remove debris, and dispose of collected material properly. Debris left behind is exposed to storm water runoff and wind. Sweep or vacuum around hull maintenance areas, roads, parking lots, and driveways frequently. Use vacuum sanders to remove paint from hulls and to collect paint dust and chips. Vacuum sanders can collect as much as 99 percent of the dust.
  • Storm Drain Marking
    Storm drain signs and stencils are highly visible source controls that are placed on or directly adjacent to storm drain inlets. Stencils and signs with prohibitive language and/or graphical icons are intended to alert the public to the fate of pollutants that enter the storm drain. Signs can be cast directly into the catch basin (concrete or metal), painted on using stencils, or affixed with glue (prefabricated plastic or metal signs).


  • City of Dana Point, Clean Beaches, Clean Oceans provides a public awareness program on the causes of pollution and solutions. It is expanding a catch basin filter installation and maintenance program, as well as educating owners on runoff, recycling, household waste, and grease prevention in sewers (Telephone: 949-248-3588).
  • City of Santa Monica’s Urban Runoff Program provides urban runoff tips, a contact number for reporting illegal discharges into storm drains and other urban runoff problems, and links for urban runoff-related publications.
  • Kids for Clean Water in Orange County provides education on the prevention of urban runoff (Telephone: 949-497-7128).
  • LA County Department of Public Works runs a Storm Water Program that provides Web-based information on used oil, solid waste, storm water runoff, recycling, storm drain stenciling and hazardous waste.
  • Marin County Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program produces publications and Web-based information about used oil, hazardous waste, recycling, storm water, and other water quality issues.
  • Orange County Watersheds and Coastal Resources Division publishes information on storm water programs and prevention. The Web site for their water pollution hotline provides instructions on reporting a storm drain or water pollution problem, and on the disposal of hazardous wastes.
  • Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program provides a toll-free phone number where callers can obtain information about urban runoff issues.
  • SWRCB Storm Water Program: any marinas incorporated into a municipality are required to have municipal storm water pollution prevention permits: Phase I MS4 area wide permits, Phase II SWMPs Permits; and Industrial Permits (industrial facilities include: dry docks, boat shops, and repair yards).

Information Resources

  • California Stormwater Quality Association, California Stormwater BMP Handbook: Storm Drain Signage provides general information regarding storm drain signage/stencils in a fact sheet.
  • California Stormwater Quality Association, California Stormwater Best Management Practice Handbook: Industrial and Commercial: Marinas, Boatyards, and Ports. The Marinas, Boatyards, and Ports section of the CASQA Industrial and Commercial Handbook covers pollutant sources at these areas and describes management practices for reducing the impacts of common activities, such as boat cleaning, boat maintenance, fueling, and sewage management, among others.
  • New York Sea Grant Extension Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Stormwater Runoff Best Management Practices for Marinas: A Guide for Operators, this 1998 bulletin describes hull maintenance practices and storm water treatment devices suitable for marinas. Cost estimates, planning and technical considerations, photographs, and drawings are included. The document is available online or can be ordered for $2.00.
  • Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) offers guidance, research studies, data, and land use planning tools to help local officials make land use decisions that will protect natural resources.
  • Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center provides resources for those involved in local storm water management. These resources include a monitoring/assessment section that details environmental indicators, methods, factors to consider in an assessment, and assessment tools and models. The Web site also has articles about land conservation, open space ordinances, and a fact sheet on conservation easements.
  • USEPA, National Menu of Best Management Practices: Storm Drain Marking this fact sheet describes how a municipality can implement a storm drain marking program using community volunteers or city staff. These signs can raise awareness about the connection between storm drains and receiving waters and can help to deter littering, excess fertilizer use, dumping, and other practices that contribute to nonpoint source pollution.


USEPA. 2001. National Management Measures Guidance to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Marinas and Recreational Boating. EPA 841-B-01-005. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Retrieved on March 16, 2008

NPS Encyclopedia Site Map