Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


onitoring urban runoff is a critical step in developing a comprehensive program to improve water quality. Until we know what is in the urban runoff, it is impossible to effectively manage it. Knowing areas of high pollutant load and the composition of that pollutant load will enable local agencies to provide better public outreach and education, mitigation of the pollutants, urban planning, and protect a valuable ecosystem. This study conducted an assessment of nutrient composition, pH and physical observations in the urban runoff from the cities of Monterey, Seaside, Sand City and Del Rey Oaks, California. Seven storm drain outfalls that discharge urban runoff from the above mentioned cities were monitored monthly between March 1998 and March 1999. The results of the laboratory analysis indicate that there are nutrients in the urban runoff that flows into Monterey Bay. During the summer months, the Bay Street outfall in Seaside, consistently exceeded the EPA drinking water standard of 10.0 mg/L for nitrogen as nitrate (NO₃⁻-N). All of the outfalls exceeded the EPA water quality standard of 0.1 ug/L for phosphorus as phosphate (PO₄⁻-P) over the entire twelve month period. An urban runoff survey of all restaurants within the city of Monterey was also conducted. The survey was an excellent tool to create awareness of urban runoff and educate restaurant managers and owners. Unfortunately, the duration of the sampling was not long enough to conclude whether education and outreach reduces the pollutant load in urban runoff. This study does provide a baseline of knowledge for cities to use when making decisions regarding land use and urban planning. Some local cities are already installing pollution mitigation systems within the storm drains and researching solutions to the problem of urban runoff. Future guidelines being established by the EPA for nutrient criteria will aid in assessing whether the concentrations found in this study are acceptable or excessive in regard to the marine environment they affect.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science & Policy Institute

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