Storm Drain Stencil

You can help to prevent storm drain pollution in the City of San Diego through storm drain stenciling. By marking the drains with a pollution prevention message, you are educating the public that no oil, soap, or debris should go down the drains.

Why is this program important?

sds Urban storm-water runoff is considered the biggest contributor to coastal marine pollution.   Both human forces (irrigation runoff and illegal dumping) and natural forces (wind and rain) move trash and other pollutants into our natural waterways, storm drains, and flood control channels.  By stenciling the drains with the pollution prevention message, we remind people that oil, soap, gum, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and chip bags don’t belong in the storm drains.



What is a storm drain?

A storm drain is not the same as a toilet or sink.  All of the materials that travel through the drains in our homes end up in the sewer system.  Many people believe that anything traveling down a storm drain will be cleaned up in our sewer system too.  However, there is a big difference between a sanitary sewer and the storm drain system. 

The sewer system takes all wastewater from toilets, sinks, and showers to a wastewater treatment facility, where the water is treated before it is discharged into coastal waters. 

In comparison, the storm drain system is designed to prevent flooding by carrying rainwater from city streets to the ocean.  Yet, chemicals trash, and oil that have been spilled between rains can also enter the storm drain system.  From here they enter pipelines that are not connected to the sewer system, and the water from the storm drains eventually flows, untreated, into the ocean, causing large amounts of pollution. 

Why should I participate?



By marking the drains with a pollution prevention message, we remind people that no oil, soap, or debris should go down the drains. I Love A Clean San Diego encourages you to think green and "Think Blue!"

How do I get involved?

Follow these steps to get involved in storm drain stenciling:

  1. Search throughout your community for storm drains that need to be stenciled, or re-stenciled. ILACSD volunteers are permitted to coordinate stenciling volunteer projects anywhere within City of San Diego limits.  However, many other jurisdictions in San Diego County do NOT allow stenciling.  Please check with ILACSD to be sure your neighborhood is approved for stenciling volunteer projects, or get involved in a public area within the City of San Diego as an alternative. 
  2. Call ILACSD's Community Program Coordinator, Lauren Short, at 619.704.2772 to make sure that the area is approved for stenciling and that we have stenciling kits available for check out.  Please give one week notice prior to your stenciling so that we may get the kit together and arrange for pick-up.
  3. Pick up the kit at our office, 2508 Historic Decatur Rd, Ste. 150, San Diego, CA 92106.  Upon pick-up, we will go over proper stenciling instructions, more instructional details can be found here.  We require a $25 deposit for each kit, cash or check only.  Your check can be made out to I Love A Clean San Diego.  We will return the check when kit is returned on time with clean paint brushes.  In the event that kits are damaged or returned late, checks will be cashed.  Stenciling kits are loaned out for a one month period, unless other arrangements are made.
  4. All volunteers must sign a waiver to participate, and minors under the age of 18 will need an additional parent or guardian signature on their form. Download the waiver here.

Also, please watch the following video before completing your Storm Drain Stenciling project:


Who do I contact for more information?

For more information about this program, or to schedule your own stenciling project, please email Lauren Short at