Storms and Stormwater

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Stormwater Master Plan executive summary. To review the full Stormwater Master Plan contact the Public Works Department at 928-204-7111 to arrange an appointment.

Stormwater Management

Concerns about the quality and amount of stormwater are addressed through the Stormwater Master Plan and have also been incorporated into the city's Land Development Code section 805.06, "Drainage Design and Treatment."

The city is permitted to discharge stormwater pursuant to the Permit No. AZG2016-002 issued by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. This permit is titled “General Permit For Discharge From Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s)." The city filed a Notice of Intent to operate under this permit with ADEQ on May 20, 2017. The Notice of Intent included the revised Sedona Stormwater Management Program. Each year a report regarding the program is prepared. 

The city operates under the Stormwater Management Program, which was approved by ADEQ in 2017.

Public Education

With the help of a 2004 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ADEQ the city prepared three brochures and developed signs that are posted near washes.

Staff will speak to groups and schools about stormwater issues.  Staff will utilize resources including a 3-Dimensional topographic map of the city. A list of possible topics has been developed.  Please contact the City Engineer or Public Works office at (928) 204-7111 to arrange for a speaker.

Water resource web links

Public Participation and Outreach

Keep Sedona’s storm water clean. 

  • Personal responsibility to put trash and garbage in proper receptacles
  • Picking up after domestic animals
  • Participating in organizations such as Keep Sedona Beautiful. They pick up debris through the Sedona area
  • Participating in neighborhood trash pick-up days
  • Properly disposing of waste oil
  • Sweeping instead of washing driveways
  • Not draining garbage can and other container wash water to the storm drainage system

Read more in these education articles on ways to act responsibly as a resident and as a trail user regarding stormwater and the watershed. 

For comments for questions contact Public Works at (928) 204-7111 or email the Assistant Engineer.

The city wishes to make the community aware of the Oak Creek Watershed Improvements' activities to investigate and make improvements to the Oak Creek Watershed.  You may view these activities by going to their website at

Ordinances and Action

In order to promote practices that contribute to reducing pollution the city has approved regulations, incorporated language into its construction specifications, required development of stormwater pollution control plans as part of the private land development process, and included certain conditions in right-of-way and grading permits. Specifically the City revised its Land Development Code in 2006 as pertains to grading and development of stormwater pollution control plans, and also passed a covered/secured load ordinance in 2006.

In 2007, City Council approved the Stormwater Ordinance, which addresses proper and illicit discharges to the storm drainage system.  The city requires all grading activities exceeding an acre in area, or that are part of a plan one acre or larger in area, or that are within a quarter-mile of Oak Creek to secure a Stormwater Construction Permit from ADEQ. 

Pollutant Concerns

The major pollutant concerns are soil erosion, trash, and oils and greases from roadways and parking lots. In addition the city is concerned about proper disposal of paints and other construction related materials and picking up domesticated animal wastes.

Although the basic rule for discharge to the city’s storm drainage system is that only storm drainage shall enter the system, the storm water program allows types of discharges that are considered not to be significant contributors of pollutants to the city system. If , however, in a given instance the discharge is found to be a significant contributor the city may disallow the discharge. Below is the current list of allowable non-storm water discharges.

  1. Water line flushing
  2. Landscape irrigation
  3. Diverted stream flows
  4. Rising ground waters
  5. Uncontaminated ground water infiltration
  6. Uncontaminated pumped groundwater
  7. Discharges from potable water sources
  8. Foundation drains
  9. Air conditioning condensate
  10. Irrigation water
  11. Springs
  12. Water from crawl space pumps
  13. Footing drains
  14. Lawn watering
  15. Individual residential car washing
  16. Discharges from riparian habitats and wetlands
  17. De-chlorinated swimming pool discharges
  18. Street wash water
  19. Discharges of flows from emergency fire fighting activities

Stormwater Pollution

Stormwater pollution is a continuing problem throughout the United States even in our part of Arizona. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 40 percent of surveyed U.S. surface waters do not meet water quality standards. Pollution from stormwater runoff is believed to be one of the lead sources of this contamination.

Stormwater runoff in Sedona is just as significant as any city within the United States, if not more so because of how little rain we do get. Low amounts of precipitation results in higher concentrations of pollutants during each rain event as compared to cities in less arid regions. When rain events occur in Sedona, pollutants are transported primarily through street gutters, culverts and open channels directly to Oak Creek and the washes leading to Oak Creek. Because stormwater flows are not treated, pollutant contamination buildup occurs and can ultimately reach Oak Creek. Stormwater pollutants also aid in the spread of viruses and diseases by providing places for mosquitoes and other nuisance insects and toxic algae growth to occur. Remember, stormwater in Sedona is not treated.

How You Can Help

Stormwater pollution can be minimized if we each take the time and effort to minimize our impact to the environment. There are simple steps that each of us can take that yield great dividends when practiced. These include:

  • Cleaning up after our pets:

Picking up and disposing of dog feces will help reduce E. coli bacteria loading to Oak Creek. The City of Sedona pet waste stations (thirteen total) have collected 11,181 pounds (5.59 tons) of pet waste between January of 2014 and December of 2017. The Pet Waste Station Program has been successful, but there are still many people that do not pick up their pet’s waste when walking around town and hiking on local trails. Get the word out and help get others to do their part!

Cleaning up after pets is not limited to when you are out on the town or trail but must also be practiced at home. The water leaving your property during a heavy rain will carry off the fecal contamination if your pet’s waste is not regularly picked up and disposed of at home.

  • Litter and other waste:

We must also do our best to prevent littering and unlawful disposal of trash and waste. In addition, keeping trash cans covered and dumpster lids closed we can prevent trash from blowing out of or carried off by wildlife. When on the trail or camping, take an extra bag with you to pack out your waste, and if you can help, pack out other’s trash. Make it a habit to leave with more than you arrived with.

  • Washing your car or hosing down your driveway or other hard surfaces:

Since the water from these practices carries off contaminants which then flow untreated to Oak Creek, there are solutions to prevent this pollution. Wash your car at a commercial car wash facility; the water from the washing is possibly recycled and all wastewater is disposed of through the sewer system, where it is treated. When cleaning your driveway and sidewalks at home, use a broom and sweep up the dirt and other contaminates and dispose in the trash.

  • Maintenance of vehicles maintenance and other equipment:

It is important to maintain your vehicles to prevent stormwater pollution. If your car leaks oil, everywhere it is driven and parked, oil or other chemicals are left behind. These can be washed away into the untreated storm sewer system, where the contaminants can enter Oak Creek. Vehicle maintenance not only extends the life of your vehicle, it minimizes pollution to Oak Creek. If you perform your own maintenance, please dispose of all used fluids and other waste lawfully and properly; most auto parts stores will recycle your oil for free!

Vehicles are not the only item to keep an eye on; equipment around the home can also leak fluids that pollute our stormwater. This includes any kind of lubricating oil for HVAC equipment, electric generators, or shop equipment, or your home’s sewer/septic system. It is very important to perform regular maintenance (septic) as well as having all leaks or other issues taken care of immediately; many issues can result in fecal contamination of stormwater leaving the property.

  • Report any illicit discharges:

An illicit discharge is any discharge that is not composed entirely of stormwater; think of it as illegal dumping. This includes both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ dumping. ‘Dry’ dumping includes disposal of any vegetation (leaves, grass, branches) or any other trash or debris, including dirt, into the storm drain system or any drainage, wash, or arroyo. Wet dumping is the disposal of any kind of liquid (water, chemicals, or other fluids) to any storm drain, wash, or arroyo. This includes pool and spa water not dechlorinated prior to discharge. If you witness any occurrence of either, please report it to the City of Sedona via the ‘Report It’ tool or calling 928-282-3113 during regular business hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. If this is an emergency, contact Sedona Police Department at 911.

Reducing stormwater pollution and helping provide good drainage in Sedona requires cooperation from various parts of our community. Everyone has a role. This includes the City government, the construction industry, tourists, and residents.