What is Stormwater?

When rain falls or water runs off from sprinklers where do you think the water goes? Some of the water flows over the land surface, heading downhill to the nearest creek or ditch. We call this stormwater runoff. In cities and towns, the water can't soak through the pavement, rooftops, and concrete. This means that there's more stormwater runoff in cities than in forests and fields.


What is a storm drain?

Have you ever seen holes or openings at the curb? Or in the street? Sometimes they have grates over them? These are called storm drains and they are often labeled with "No Dumping Flows to Bay". The storm drain is connected to a pipe which carries the water directly to your local creek, the San Francisco Bay, or Pacific Ocean. There might be one near your house.



Find the watershed you live in. The watershed includes the area you live and play, the storm drain, and your local waterway.


How You Can Prevent Water Pollution

Often we think that water pollution only comes from big oil spills or huge factories. We forget that there are lots of little sources of pollution all around us. Stormwater from cities and towns can become polluted. Oil drips on driveways, fertilizers on lawns, loose dirt in areas with no plants, or dog poop can all be carried by stormwater to a drain and on to a creek or Pacific Ocean.


  • Never put something down a storm drain that you think might hurt a fish. Only water belongs in a storm drain.
  • Don't water the driveway or sidewalk as the water will wash pollutants into storm drains. Keep your sprinklers on the lawn.
  • Avoid using pesticides; instead control bugs naturally or use a less toxic pest control product.


Earth-Friendly Glossary


Activity Pages

NOAA Waterlife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea Interactive Game (4th-7th Grade)

storm drain maze

Make sure that only rain goes down the storm drain. Lead the water droplet though the maze and into the storm drain:
Storm drain maze
Complete this stormwater crossword puzzle by using the words provided:
Stormwater Crossword

Circle these words for pollution prevention:
Pollution Prevention Word Search


What's Hazardous in your House? Make a room-by-room list of hazardous products in your home.
Help get the used oil to a recycling center:
Oil Recycling Center Maze
oil maze

Activity Book Downloads

Pest or Pal? Activity Book Are bugs helpful or harmful? Find out.
Don't Be a LitterBug Coloring Book Help keep our waterways litter free.


Other Fun Websites to learn more about Water Pollution

US EPA Polluted Runoff (Nonpoint Source Pollution)

Environmental Kids Club


Free Materials - Limit one of any item per child

Email with your request. Include name, age, and mailing address.


  • Discover Stormwater Activity Book (Age 8-12)
  • Watershed Protection Activity Book (Age 8-12)
  • Pest or Pal? Activity Book (Age 7-12)
  • Don't Be a Litterbug Coloring Book (Age 2-12)
  • Pencil, Eraser

See Program Materials page