Preventing Stormwater Pollution butterfly


To report illegal dumping to the street, waterways, or the storm drain system, please call the Public Works Department at (831) 648-5722. After hours, call the after-hours emergency number at (831) 648-3143.

Did you know that the largest source of storm water pollution is residents? Through the conduct of daily activities, the general public releases various pollutants into the storm drain. Urban runoff is the largest source of unregulated pollution to the waterways and coastal areas of the United States. The most common pollutants released into storm drains are:

  • Fuel and motor oil leaking from cars
  • Household cleaning products
  • Improperly disposed paint and paint thinners
  • Paper, cups, and other litter
  • Yard waste and fertilizers
  • Animal waste left from household pets

These pollutants are transported into the city's storm drain system by various sources such as rain, hoses and sprinklers, which drain from streets, parking lots, and lawns to enter various catch basins that leads to local water bodies. Anything that enters the storm drain sewer system flows directly to the Bay and Ocean and receives NO TREATMENT AT ALL. Storm water pollution destroys the natural beauty of our beaches and waterways in addition to harming both marine wildlife and plant life. It can also lead to unsafe swimming conditions in our beaches and lakes. Here are several ways you can prevent pollution in our storm drains:

  • Recycle used motor oil (for free) by taking it to an auto parts store, hazardous waste collection site or using curbside recycling pickup. When changing your car's oil, prevent spills by placing cardboard under the oil pan. Use absorbent material such as kitty litter to clean up spills. Never pour used motor oil down storm drains, on the ground, or driveways.
  • Wash cars on unpaved surfaces, or at a commercial car wash. Leftover soapy water should be poured down a household sink or toilet (to be treated by the sewage plant), not the driveway, gutter, street, or storm drain which lead directly to the bay without treatment.
  • Inspect and maintain your car regularly to prevent leakage of oil, antifreeze and other toxic fluids. Use a drip tray to catch leaks where your car is parked.
  • Keep as much of your property landscaped as possible. Planted areas absorb more rainwater and help water percolate into the ground. Bare soil promotes water runoff. As an alternate to concrete driveways, use paving bricks, which help reduce runoff.
  • Use non-toxic alternatives to pesticides and organic gardening techniques when possible. Plant native plants which need less water than imported varieties. Use herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Follow label instructions carefully. Do not apply chemicals if rain is forecast. Never dump chemicals in ditches, gutters, storm drains, or waterways. Never use motor oil to kill weeds along fences or in yards. Motor oil poured in soil contaminates water. Take unwanted toxic products to local hazardous waste collection sites.
  • Sweep driveways, patios, and sidewalks rather than hosing them down into the gutters and storm drains. Put lawn clippings in a compost pile or garbage can.
  • Water only your garden and lawn, not your driveways and sidewalks. Divert garden hoses and rain spouts away from paved surfaces to reduce water runoff from entering storm drains. Consider using a rain barrel to collect water for flower bed and lawn watering.
  • Pick up all pet waste regularly and dispose of in the trash can, not down the storm drain.
  • Recycle your car's antifreeze. Never drain antifreeze directly onto the ground or street. It is poisonous to pets and wildlife which are attracted to it's sweet smell and taste.
  • Take unwanted chemicals like paint and pesticides to your local hazardous waste collection site. Use non-toxic household products, if possible. When using toxic products follow directions carefully and use sparingly. Properly store toxic products away from children. Never dump chemicals down storm drains, ditches, gutters, or waterways.

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