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San Pedro Creek and Pacifica State Beach Bacteria TMDL

San Pedro Creek and Pacifica State Beach, located along the Pacific Ocean in San Mateo County, California (Figure 1), are listed as impaired water bodies on the Clean Water Act (CWA) 303(d) list due to high densities of fecal indicator bacteria (e.g., fecal coliform, total coliform, Escherichia coli, enterococcus) measured in water samples. High indicator bacteria densities suggest the presence of fecal contamination from wildlife (e.g., birds, deer, raccoons), humans, and/or domestic warm-blooded animals (e.g., dogs, horses). Fecal contamination from some of these sources (primarily humans) is associated with pathogens that, when present, pose potential health risks to people who ingest water from contaminated water bodies and may result in impairment of the water contact recreation Beneficial Use. The source of fecal contamination is critical to understanding the associated human health risk since the amount of risk varies depending on the fecal source. In most cases, human sources are associated with much higher risk than wildlife or domestic animal sources (USEPA 2012). For more information on the San Pedro Creek and Pacifica State Beach Bacteria TMDL, please visit the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board website

Pet Waste

The Issue

Pet waste left on sidewalks, streets, yards or other open areas can be washed away by rain or irrigation water into storm drains which lead to creeks and ocean. Pollution from pet waste can harm water quality and habitat, and make waterways unfit for recreation or swimming.
Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and parasites, which can cause disease in humans and animals. Pet waste contains nutrients that encourage algae growth in waterways. The decomposition of pet waste depletes dissolved oxygen in the water, which fish and aquatic organisms require to survive.

Pet Waste Information

A large number of pets live in Pacifica, and of course, they do not use the sewer system!
Recent studies have shown that pet waste is a significant contributor to bacterial contamination in San Pedro Creek and Pacifica State Beach. Stormwater carries litter, pet waste and other pollutants directly into creeks and ocean. Stormwater does not receive any treatment prior to discharging into the creeks and ocean. Storm drains are designed to carry stormwater only.

Dog Owner Tips:

  • Carry disposable bags when you walk your pet and pick up and dispose of pet waste in a garbage can.
  • Keep pet waste out of compost pile and garden soil.
  • Clean up after your dog every single time.
  • Ensure you always have extra bags in your car so you are prepared when you travel with your dog.
  • Carry extra bags when walking your dog and make them available to other pet owners who are without.
  • Tell friends and neighbors about the ill effects of animal waste on the environment. Encourage them to clean up after pets and teach their children as well.

FREE Dog Bag Dispenser and Waste Bags

Available at the City of Pacifica Department of Public Works office, 151 Milagra Drive.

Must be a City of Pacifica resident. While supplies last.

For more information about pet waste or stormwater pollution visit the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program page or call the City of Pacifica at (650) 738-3767.



Fill out the pledge below to receive a free dog bag dispenser! Dog bag dispensers are only available for residents of Pacifica.

We all know picking up after our dogs is the right thing to do. But sometimes life happens and we forget a doggy waste bag. However, when we don’t pick up after our dogs we put the health of our community members at risk and even pollute our local creeks- uncollected dog waste can wash in. We’d like to make it as convenient as possible for you to pick up after your dog: sign this pledge and we’ll send you a dog bag dispenser, free of charge.

I pledge to…

...Always pick up after my dog, even in my own yard and on hiking trails

...Always carry doggy waste bags when I’m out walking my dog

...Educate others about the importance of picking up after our dogs