Environmental Services

Welcome to the Environmental Services Department. The Environmental Services Department has three divisions: Water/Wastewater, Natural Resources and Recreation. Below you will find brief descriptions of each division and links to their home pages.

Reusable Bag Ordinance Environmental Document

The City's CEQA / Environmental document for the Reusable Bag Ordinance has been approved. Click here to review the environmental document.

If you have additional questions about the Reusable Bag Ordinance, Contact Environmental Services or call (707) 822-8184.

Rail with Trail Project

The City has just released the CEQA / Enviornmental review for the Rail with Trail Project.  Click here to review all the background and data for this project. 


Test your stormwater and water quality IQ!

Help the North Coast Stormwater Coalition take their pollution prevention program to the next level by taking their online stormwater and water quality survey. You can also pick up a paper copy of the survey at Arcata City Hall's Environmental Services Department. Your input can make the world of a difference to the creatures that share our creeks and bays.


Water/Wastewater Division

The Water/Wastewater Division monitors, reports, tests and treats all drinking water for the City of Arcata and the Jacoby Creek Water District. It monitors, reports, tests and treats all wastewater, including 55-acres of oxidation ponds and 225-acres of treatment and enhancement marshes which make up the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. Information on the quality of the City's water is available in the City of Arcata Consumer Confidence/Water Quality Report and in the Jacoby Creek Water District Consumer Confidence/Water Quality Report.

Statewide Drought Emergency: For water conservation tips go to www.SaveOurWater.com.

On June 17, 2015, the Arcata City Council voted to adopt emergency water saving measures to prevent waste and unreasonable use of water and to promote water conservation during this prolonged, historic drought. Listed below are the current mandatory water conservation measures in place in Arcata. These measures will automatically expire on February 28, 2016.

Arcata Emergency Conservation Regulations

The following actions are prohibited for everyone, except where necessary to address an immediate health and safety need, to comply with a term or condition in a state or federal agency permit, or when following a specific water conservation policy adopted by a City Council resolution:

  • Watering outdoor landscapes in a way that causes runoff onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures;
  • Watering outdoor landscapes and turf during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall;
  • Watering outdoor ornamental landscapes and turf more than four days per calendar week except for commercial nurseries;
  • Watering outdoor landscapes and turf between the hours of 10 a.m and 6 p.m.;
  • Watering outdoor landscapes and turf by hose; except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use or to meet the initial watering requirements of newly planted landscaping and newly seeded lawns;
  • Watering ornamental turf on public street medians except where necessary to protect trees;
  • Watering landscapes outside of newly constructed homes and building in a manner inconsistent with regulations or other requirements established by the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development;
  • Using a hose that dispenses potable water to wash a motor vehicle, exceptwhere the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use;
  • Watering hard surfaces including, but not limited to, driveways, sidewalks, patios, parking lots, streets, or similar surfaces except as necessary by the City for street sweeping and to otherwise protect the public health or safety;
  • Using potable water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system;
  • Serving of drinking water other than upon request in eating or drinking establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, hotels, cafes, cafeterias, bars, or other public places where food or drink are served and/or purchased; and
  • The failure of hotel and motel operators to prominently display in each guestroom using clear and easily understood language a notice of the option for guests to choose not have towels and linens laundered daily.

SaveWater.CA.Gov Launched to Help Communities Identify Water Waste

To help Californians save more water this summer, the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Technology and Save Our Water announced the launch of SaveWater.CA.Gov. The new mobile-optimized website will allow residents to report suspected leaks and water waste anywhere in the state from their smartphones, tablets and computers. Today’s announcement was made following the release of June 2015 statewide conservation progress.

“Everyone needs to save water, and this is one effective way alert residents can help everyone – and every community – save water during this historic drought,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Every drop saved – and every suspected leak or water waste reported and corrected – will help stretch the state’s limited water supply, because we don’t know if next year will be a fifth year of drought.”

Many local water agencies have their own methods for reporting water waste, whether by email, phone or online app. (To find a specific agency, click here.) Modeled on sites maintained by water suppliers throughout the state, SaveWater.CA.Gov is a tool for Californians to help their communities and state save water and assist those water suppliers that may not have the resources to build their own online reporting system. The site is available statewide and compliments local efforts by providing an easy-to-use tool that directly reports water waste to the proper authority – anywhere in California.

Through SaveWater.CA.Gov, users can easily report and send pictures of leaks or water waste from their smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Users can select the type of water waste from a list of common problems, type in the address where the potential waste is occurring and click send.

The anonymous report is transmitted directly to the water agency that serves the geographic area where the report is made. Users don’t need to know the name of the local water agency or how to contact them. The SaveWater.CA.Gov site does it for them.

More than 300 water agencies throughout the state have already signed up to use the tool. All waters suppliers are encouraged to join SaveWater.CA.Gov to access detailed reports of apparent water waste in their areas.

“The beauty of this system is that it sends reports directly to the water suppliers,” Marcus said. “Since the State Water Board passed emergency water conservations regulations in July 2014, hundreds of state residents have emailed us and called asking what they can do to report suspected water waste. This tool is a valuable step in the right direction for water suppliers to find out about suspected leaks or overwatering in their communities.” 

Natural Resources Division

Stormwater and Open Space - It maintains, manages and restores Arcata's creeks, wetlands, and tidelands to optimize fish and wildlife habitat, public use, recreation, water quality and to fulfill aspects of Arcata's Creeks Management Plan, Stormwater Management Plan and City Municipal Code which address erosion and sediment control.

Throughout the year the Environmental Services Department sponsors volunteer work days in the Arcata Community Forest, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary and other open space areas. If you are interested in participating, click the link below to see a schedule.

Volunteer Work Day Schedule

Energy Program

The Energy Program coordinates energy- and climate change-related activties within City government and the Arcata community in order to reduce energy use and the associated generation of greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation.  

Arcata Marsh Interpretative Center

The Arcata Marsh Interpretative Center, with interactive exhibits on the historical, biological, and technical aspects of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, is a focal point for students and visitors. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on major holidays. A free public tour leaves the Interpretative Center every Saturday at 2 p.m. year round.

Volunteers are recruited to staff the Interpretative Center and lead special request tours and Saturday tours. Stop by the Interpretative Center to pick up an application. Docent training takes place twice a year, spring and fall.

Source Reduction and Recycling

It administers programs, public education and agreements regarding source reduction, recycling and solid waste. Programs include distribution of compost bins, a yard waste drop-off facility and information on diversion of construction and demolition waste from the landfill.

Geographic Information System (GIS)

It provides digital geographic information analysis and mapping services to City staff, the public, and other jurisdictions and features public access to maps and data. The GIS program also maintains updates of a variety of City databases and records including but not limited to: Parcel ownership, easements, building activity, stormwater utility information, wetlands, zoning, historical sites, and water quality information.

Forest Management

It maintains the integrity of 2,350-acres of forest lands owned by the City. This includes the watersheds, wildlife, timber, fisheries, and plant resources as well as the overall health of the forest systems. The Community and Jacoby Creek forests are managed to produce marketable forest products on a sustained basis, balancing timber harvest and timber growth. 

Recreation Division

The Recreation Division operates a variety of programs with the overall goal of enriching the quality of life for those who utilize its services while building better kids and a stronger, more involved community. Programs are available that are geared to all ages and interests ranging from traditional sports to non-traditional arts, theater, music and foreign languages. Schedules for current classes are available. Please click on this link for information on classes, parks and other programs offered by the Recreation Division.