What is stormwater?

Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off rooftops, yards, parking lots and streets.  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 oil, will end up as water pollution. 

Storm Drainage System

The purpose of the storm drainage system is to prevent flooding by conveying rain water away from buildings, roads and other places where we don’t want it to collect.  Storm drains discharge directly into the surrounding waters, runoff is not treated at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Disposing of oils, detergents, pet waste and other materials into the storm drain is the same as dumping them directly into the Puget Sound. Because storm drains discharge into the surrounding water, City ordinance prohibits anything other than uncontaminated rain water from entering the storm drain system.

Polluted stormwater can:

  • Damage salmon habitat
  • Pollute shellfish beds
  • Degrade water quality

We encourage people who live, work and play in Anacortes to help keep our stormwater clean.  Removing contaminants from stormwater is not nearly as effective as eliminating the pollutant at the source.

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Municipal Stormwater Permit

The City of Anacortes was issued a Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater permit by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The Department of Ecology permit may be found here.

One of the requirements under the Permit is to have a Stormwater Management Program, which is a set of actions and activities under the Permit. Another requirement is to develop and annually update a Stormwater Management Program Plan (SWMP Plan). The SWMP Plan is a written document that is available to the public that informs the public of planned SWMP activities for the upcoming calendar year. The City of Anacortes SWMP Plan, as well as the current annual report, can be found on this page under Reports and Plans.  If you have any questions or comments regarding the City’s SWMP or SWMP Plan, please contact the Public Works Department at (360) 299-1966 or email Diane Hennebert at

How to comment on the City’s Stormwater Management Program and Plan

The City’s 2020 SWMP Plan has been submitted to the Department of Ecology.  If you would like to provide feedback regarding the City’s Stormwater Management Program and Plan, comments may be sent to the City’s Stormwater Program Manager at:

Illicit Discharges / Water Quality Hotline

An illicit discharge is any discharge to the MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater or of non-stormwater discharges allowed as specified in the City’s MS4 Permit.  Illicit discharges may negatively affect human health and the environment, water quality, and aquatic life and habitat.  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 Operations and Maintenance 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.

The Anacortes Municipal Code does not allow illicit 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.

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Education & Outreach

There are many ways to get involved in protecting water quality in Anacortes!

The City of Anacortes partners with the Skagit Conservation District to offer a variety of opportunities to learn best management practices and how to implement them in our everyday lives.

Some of the programs offered include the following (where 2019 program information is posted or will be posted soon):

The City of Anacortes has also worked with Anacortes High School's Green Club on several projects.  With assistance from the City and the Samish Indian Nation, the Green Club has designed and built rain gardens in town.

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!

Stormwater Utility Billing

For information on your stormwater utility bill, visit our Utility Billing page here.

Pollution Prevention Information

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