Stormwater and Water Quality Protection

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The Water Quality Protection Program prevents, controls, and eliminates pollutants from entering the storm drain system. Pollutants entering the storm drain system eventually end up in local creeks, rivers, lakes, lagoons and ocean.

As cities develop, streets, rooftops, and other surfaces replace vegetation and open space that used to allow water to infiltrate the soil.  Rainwater that lands on these ‘impervious surfaces’ becomes stormwater runoff.  A network of storm drain inlets and underground pipes direct stormwater runoff away from streets to prevent flooding. This storm drain system discharges stormwater runoff directly to the nearest creek, river, lake, lagoon, and eventually to the ocean.

While reducing the risk of flooding and damage to buildings, the discharge can create environmental concerns. Stormwater runoff can collect and carry a variety of pollutants from the city’s developed areas and streets, such as pet waste (bacteria), sediment and dirt, trash, pesticides, and fertilizer (nutrients). Over time, these pollutants can negatively affect the water quality and habitats of local waterbodies.  

To comply with federal Clean Water Act regulations and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and the environment, the City of Vista's Water Quality Protection Program oversees different activities that help prevent, control, and treat stormwater pollution. Some program activities include the following:

  • Inspection of businesses for compliance with pollution prevention requirements
  • Prevention, detection, response, and enforcement of illegal discharges and spills
  • Development plan review for compliance with pollution prevention and stormwater management
  • Construction site erosion and sediment control inspections
  • Public education and special events to encourage residential participation
  • Monitoring and sampling of stormwater discharges

Vista Municipal Code, Ch. 13.18 Stormwater Management and Discharge Control Program presents the prohibitions and authorities associated with these activities.

Minimum stormwater pollution prevention Best Management Practices (BMPs) are required at properties throughout the city. These BMPs, as presented in the City of Vista Stormwater Standards Manual can vary by activity and land use.  


Watersheds & the Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program

On May 8, 2013, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted and issued a permit (Order No. R9-2013-0001; amended in 2015 as Order No. R9-2015-0001; and amended again in 2015 as Order No. R9-2015-0100) to all incorporated cities in San Diego County, including the City of Vista, as well as the County of San Diego, Port of San Diego, and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.  The permit sets regulatory requirements for stormwater runoff and discharges into local waterbodies. 

The City of Vista is located in the Carlsbad and San Luis Rey Watershed Management Areas. The City, along with other responsible agencies, has collaboratively developed Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) to address stormwater management in these two watersheds.  The WQIPs, associated annual reports, studies, and additional information can be found on the Project Clean Water website.

The City of Vista’s Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program (JRMP) document describes strategies and activities the City will implement to meet WQIP goals and comply with the stormwater permit.  In 2017, the City updated its 2015 JRMP to make it consistent with Regional Board-approved changes made to the Carlsbad WQIP.  A summary of these revisions can be found in the Executive Summary and Introduction sections of the JRMP, which is provided in the Vista 2017 Jurisdictional Runoff Management Plan -Final.

Irrigation runoff that enters the storm drain system can also adversely affect water quality. The runoff can carry pollutants with it, such as pesticides, fertilizer, and sediment. As a result, irrigation runoff is identified as a prohibited discharge and is enforceable through Vista Municipal Code.”


Additional Resources

The Additional Resources section below provides residents and businesses with resources for preventing irrigation runoff and how to prevent stormwater pollution. Information about water conservation and drought conditions can be found on the Vista Irrigation District website.

Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Fact sheets and resources for pollution prevention and stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) are provided on the City of Vista’s Online Resources webpage.

Land Development Requirements

Stormwater requirements for development projects, including the City of Vista’s BMP Design Manual, project checklists, and template forms are provided on the Land Development Division Resources webpage.

Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

Requirements for the management of fats, oils, and grease, are described in Vista Municipal Code, Ch. 14.12 Control and Regulation of Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG). 


Geographic Information System (GIS) Data

The City of Vista’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Division webpage facilitates public access to the City’s spatial data by providing an interactive map viewing tool and the ability to download various data products. GIS files used to develop maps presented in the City of Vista JRMP are available for download at the links provided below. Note that the files provided here are only for the user’s convenience and no warranty is made as to the accuracy of these data.



Stormwater and Water Quality Protection Program Stormwater Hotline
P: 760.643.2804

Jon Nottage, Stormwater Program Manager
P: 760.643.5425


Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Flash Player Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer