Healthy Watersheds Mean Happy Waterways!

county of san diego watershed protection program


Watershed photo 3-1-21

Healthy Watersheds Mean Happy Waterways!

The County is home to 11 westward draining watersheds that connect to the Pacific Ocean. Watersheds are land areas that drain water through lakes, rivers, and streams to a common low point – usually the ocean. The water that flows through our watersheds picks up pollutants like nutrients, bacteria, and trash, which can contaminate our waterways, harm our aquatic life and human health, and interfere with our ability to enjoy recreational water activities.

We can protect our watersheds with just a few steps! 

We use our watershed resources in our everyday lives more often than you’d think! Whether you are enjoying recreational activities like boating, surfing, fishing, picnicking at a lake, or walking along the shores of a river, they all depend on healthy watersheds. You can help protect our watersheds and waterways by taking these simple everyday actions to prevent pollution:

Nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorous)

  • Use less fertilizer and pesticides – most plants need less than what they are given. When possible, use separate fertilizer and pesticide products (instead of a combination ‘weed and feed’ product) so that you can use only the amount needed.
  • Sweep up leaf litter and plant debris and dispose of it in a designated container or compost it.

Bacteria (found in pet waste and sewage)

  • Pick up pet waste in your yard at least once a week. On walks, bag up your pet’s waste and properly dispose of it in designated containers.
  • Dispose of RV black or grey water at a designated dump station.
  • Report sewage leaks or spills immediately to 888-802-2244.

Trash (including green waste)

  • Throw all trash away in designated containers and keep the lids closed.
  • Learn about the County’s Recycle Right! Program. Or visit Waste Free SD to find out how to dispose or recycle specific items.

Sediment (dirt and soil)

  • Sweep your driveway or porch instead of using a hose and dispose of debris in a designated container.
  • Use mulch or gravel in landscaped areas to prevent erosion and save water.
  • Plant trees, and drought-tolerant/native shrubs, or ground cover on slopes to help keep topsoil in place and facilitate the soaking of rainwater into the ground.
  • Learn more about soil pollution and erosion prevention by reading our World Soil Day bulletin.

The County of San Diego and its partners work together to keep our watersheds healthy. If you would like to learn more about these efforts visit For more Information or to report pollution in San Diego County, contact us at 1-888-846-0080 or

Lake Hodges


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Report observed pollution to the correct jurisdiction.

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Research property information and permits. Apply for some permits online.

GIS Maps
Find property information including zoning designation with our web-based mapping tool. 

Watershed Protection Website


project clean water

Project Clean Water efforts are focused on providing a centralized point of access to water quality information and resources for San Diego County Watersheds. Click HERE to visit Project Clean Water’s website. 

To learn more about the County of San Diego - Watershed Protection Program, please visit