Storm Water Management Program


With over 15,000 student, and more than 4,000 staff and faculty, The UCSC campus has a population similar to that of a small town. Like all municipalities, the campus has an extensive network of storm drains to direct storm water runoff.

Municipal Permit Background

Storm drain systems such as those on the UCSC campus are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Storm Water Regulations, as outlined in the Clean Water Act (CWA). As required by the CWA, the storm drain system at UCSC operates under a permit issued by the State Water Resources Control Board. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has adopted the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. The SWRCB designated UCSC a a Non-Traditional permittee. The Storm Water Management Program ensures that the campus is fulfilling the requirements of its Phase II General Permit for MS4’s. In doing so, the program ensure both legal compliance as well as environmental sustainability systems in order to protect the water quality.

Watershed Management

UC Santa Cruz relies heavily on natural drainages to manage storm water on its campus. In addition, the campus has constructed a variety of engineered facilities that convey runoff to the natural drainage channels. These facilities include storm water detention basins and vaults, urban contaminant removal systems, biofiltration, piping, engineered channels, catch basins, and bioswales. As a result of the karst topography, with sinkholes distributed in the channels and elsewhere throughout the central and lower campus, most storm water runoff from campus development reaches the karst aquifer by way of sinkholes and swallow holes and does not flow off campus.

Education and Outreach

The Storm Water Management Program has developed education and outreach materials aimed at educating the campus community on the importance of storm water protection, and looking at storm water as a resource to be valued. Staff training provides information on the regulations that apply to the campus, and how protection of storm water benefits the environment we all enjoy. The Storm Water Program hires student interns to help with implementation of the Program’s Best Management Practices. Student interns provide valuable connections with their peers for educational opportunities. For information on how to report a storm water concern and how to volunteer or become an intern, visit the Cleanwater webpage.


Please report any concerns, illegal dumping into storm drains, or suspicious activities that may cause environmental harm to the Storm Water Quality Hotline (831) 459-2553