Water Quality, Illicit Discharge & Pollution Prevention

The City of Anacortes is required to obtain coverage under Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit because it operates a regulated small municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) that discharges stormwater to the surface waters of Washington State.

3 Girls with Storm Drain

But only after industrial sources of pollution were controlled did scientists and lawmakers realize how much pollution comes from average Americans doing everyday things. Water is a universal solvent. When it rains, it washes contaminants that lie on rooftops, gardens and sidewalks into our streams and bays via the storm sewer system. Many of these contaminants, from cigarettes to pet waste to slug poison, will end up as water pollution.

Stormwater, also called surface water, is separate from that which enters the sanitary sewer and is treated by the City's Wastewater Treatment Plant. Water that flows down driveways and streets into a gutter goes into a storm drain which eventually discharges to a bay. The purpose of the storm drain system is to prevent flooding by conveying rain water away from buildings, roads and other places we don’t want to flood. Because storm drains convey water to surrounding bays, City ordinance prohibits anything other than uncontaminated rain water from entering the storm drain system.

Illicit Discharges / Water Quality Hotline

Never pour anything into a gutter, street or storm drain. Should you notice a storm drain requiring maintenance or anything that might negatively impact the storm drain system, please contact the City's Maintenance and Operations Division at (360) 293-1921 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours, call 911 and dispatchers will contact the appropriate agency.

It is unlawful to make illicit or hazardous discharges, either directly or indirectly to a public storm system. Please contact us for reporting any Illicit Discharges. City staff understands the need for confidentiality, so calls can be anonymous.

Education & Volunteer Work

At Home

  • Avoid over watering so fertilizers and pesticides don’t run off your lawn and into the storm sewer system.
  • Choose environmentally friendly products, follow dosage recommendations and use only where absolutely necessary.
  • Compost your yard waste and use it to amend your soils
  • Disconnect your downspouts from the storm sewer system.
  • Never dump anything down storm drains
  • Sweep up driveways, sidewalks and roads and dispose or compost dirt, grass and leaves instead of hosing them off and into the gutter.
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly or not at all.
  • Vegetate bare spots in your yard to reduce erosion

On the Road

Wash your car at a commercial car wash that is properly plumbed to the sanitary sewer system or wash it over your lawn to prevent the dirty water from entering the storm sewer. Check cars regularly for fluid leaks and repair promptly. Recycle automotive fluids


Organize a work party to help clean a stream, mark catch basins, conduct an educational event, pick up trash, enhance a wetland or stormwater treatment facility. Anything else you can think of - let us know!

Pollution Prevention Information