Storm Water Pollution Prevention

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You Can Prevent Storm Water Pollution!

Stormwater is water from rain, irrigation systems, or other sources that is transported into local water bodies without treatment. Urban stormwater picks up various pollutants along the way, such as automobile pollutants, pesticides, trash and other materials, that end up polluting the Bay. Follow these four easy steps to reduce our community’s stormwater pollution:


Maintain Your Property

Keep good landscaping habits such as:

  • Picking up trimmings and clippings.
  • Keeping waste out of the gutter.
  • Avoiding over-irrigation and over-application of herbicides and pesticides

Additionally, sweep outdoor spaces regularly (once per week), and only wash your vehicle in designated areas to limit runoff. Visit's gardening page for more details.


Contain Pollutants

Cover & store potential pollutants, such as trash, grease, paints, metals, chemicals, and food products to prevent them from contacting rainfall and entering storm drains.

Maintain a regular inspection and repair schedule for vehicles and equipment. If you notice leaks in containers such as dumpsters, report it. Seal floor drains that carry wastewater to storm drains.

Visit best practices page for more ways to prevent leaks.


Properly Dispose Waste

Dispose of your waste properly. WhatBin is a super helpful tool that tells you how to properly dispose of waste. This includes toxic substances, which must be kept out of the storm drain. Explore's disposal pages for more details. 

Additionally, if a  sewer or wastewater spill occurs, follow the procedure detailed here, and be sure to contain the spill if possible, to avoid runoff into the drains.


Report Illicit Discharges

An illicit discharge is ANY discharge to the storm system that is not composed entirely of storm water. Some examples of illicit discharge are: dumping wastewater or harmful substances, excessive runoff from plant watering, and soapy runoff from car washing.

If you see an illicit discharge, please report it at:

  • 650-780-7464 (Mon - Fri, 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) or
  • 650-780-7190 (After Hours)


Prepare For Winter Storms

Keeping your gutter clear in preparation for the rain is essential to maintaining a safe storm drain system. This ensures that excess water can quickly exit the streets through the storm drains.

Visit the Winter Storm Preparedness page to see the top 10 tips to prepare your storm drain and gutters for the storm.


Educate Your Community

Knowledge is power! The key to preventing pollution is knowing how to stop it, and that involves the whole community. Some things you can do to help include:

  • Labeling storm drain inlets to let people know that no dumping is allowed.
  • Educate customers and employees to implement storm water pollution prevention practices.
  • Visit to see how you can reduce litter in your community.

This page has been adapted from the San Mateo Countywide Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program’s Best Management Practices for Everyone. This material was originally prepared by the City of Richmond, which is gratefully acknowledged. For more information, you can also view the Solution to Water Pollution Pamphlet