Storm Drainage Master Plan

The Storm Drainage Master Plan Project (SDMP Project) is assessing the condition of the City’s storm drainage system and identifying areas prone to flooding. The SDMP Project will create a list, including cost estimates, of high priority capital stormwater system maintenance projects for future work.

Drainage Plan System Repairs and Upgrades

More than 300 miles of pipes below Oakland’s streets carry stormwater into creeks that flow into the San Francisco Bay. When working well, this system is barely noticeable. However, much of the City’s pipes and supporting infrastructure were built decades ago and are in poor condition. This aging infrastructure must be rehabilitated and improved to carry stormwater from heavy storms to prevent local flooding at “stormwater hotspots.”

Storm Drainage Master Plan Components

  1. Inventory and assessment of the City’s storm drainage system.
  2. Studies to evaluate if drains and pipes are large enough to handle storm drainage flows.
  3. Prioritized list of projects to reduce local flooding and to add green stormwater infrastructure designed to clean stormwater and provide urban greening benefits. The projects will be prioritized based on factors such as flooding severity and frequency and race and equity indicators.
  4. Preliminary cost estimates of storm drainage system improvements.
  5. Suggestions for funding sources to implement the planned storm drainage improvements.

Race and equity in the Storm Drainage Master Plan

The City of Oakland is committed to eliminating systemic disparities by prioritizing underserved communities that have historically lacked access to resources and opportunities. The Storm Drainage Master Plan will prioritize the maintenance, rehabilitation, and/or replacement of storm drainage infrastructure in underserved communities.

See Oakland's equity map.

Stormwater vs Wastewater

Stormwater comes from rain. Insufficient or blocked-up stormwater drains can result in local flooding. Stormwater also picks up street pollution and carries it to local waterways and the San Francisco Bay.

Wastewater includes anything that drains from sinks, washers, and toilets in homes and businesses. Wastewater must be captured and treated in a wastewater treatment plant.

Stormwater and wastewater are managed in two separate systems:

  • Oakland’s stormwater flows through pipes and culverts into creeks, then out to the San Francisco Bay.
  • Oakland’s wastewater flows to a wastewater treatment plant operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). After treatment, wastewater flows out to the San Francisco Bay.

What is a storm drainage hotspot?

A storm drainage hotspot is where rainwater is not draining properly. A hotspot could include:

  • A large puddle of standing water
  • A sidewalk covered in water
  • Water running down the street during a rainstorm
  • Water overflowing the banks of a ditch or creek

How has the City identified storm drainage hotspot areas so far?

The City is using computer models and hydrologic analyses to identify areas prone to flooding. Hydrologic analysis factors size and location of storm drains and the amount of rainfall to predict areas of higher flood risk.

The City also has digital maintenance records from 2012 onward that show where street flooding has occurred.

Together, the hydrologic analyses and maintenance records were used to create a preliminary map of stormwater hotspots.

Report urgent flooding, ruptured pipes, or other emergencies in Oakland

Urgent issues such as flooding, ruptured pipes, or sewer overflow should be reported immediately dialing 311 from most phones in Oakland. You may also dial (510) 615-5566 to speak to a staff dispatcher.

For less urgent maintenance needs, such as minor leaks or other plumbing issues, you may call OAK 311 or report online or via email to

Adopt a Storm Drain!

Volunteer to adopt a storm drain. With a rake and a few minutes of volunteer time, you can clear leaves and debris from around and on top of the storm drain inlet to keep it clear, keep water flowing during rain, keep plastic and other pollution out of the water, and prevent debris from clogging pipes below. When you sign up to Adopt a Drain, you become eligible to borrow City tools and supplies, and receive the City's rain alert notifications.

volunteer cleaning debris from storm drain inlet
volunteer cleaning debris from storm drain inlet