Apartment Complexes

It is illegal to allow anything other than rain water to be discharged to a storm drain.

Wash water, irrigation water, and leaks from vehicles or equipment should never be allowed to be transported into a street, gutter, parking lot, or storm drain. If discharged or disposed of improperly, materials such as solvents, dirt, and soapy water can be harmful to water quality and creek habitats.

Individuals and businesses that improperly handle and dispose of non-stormwater materials down the storm drain are both subject to civil and criminal prosecution.

Cleaning products labeled “nontoxic” and “biodegradable” can still harm wildlife if they enter the storm drain system. These products are prohibited discharges to the storm drain system.

Best Practices:

Property Maintenance

  • Inspect daily and pick up all debris and trash from around dumpster and common areas.
  • Keep dumpster lids closed at all times to protect garbage from being scattered by the wind and/or animals.
  • Keep dumpsters in a covered area to prevent rain from entering.
  • When possible, keep dumpsters locked and in a secure area to prevent dumping of undesirable materials by non-tenants.
  • Make sure dumpster does not leak. If you detect a leak, call the company who leased it to you and request a replacement.
  • Store cleaning chemicals inside. Use safer alternative products when possible.
  • Construction materials such as concrete, dry wall, dirt, and paint need to be stored under a waterproof cover.
  • Drain carpet cleaning and mop waste water to an inside drain.

Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides

  • Must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Call your local County administered Household Hazardous Waste program or collection facility for more information and locations.
  • Check the weather and don’t spray if rain or high wind is forecasted.
  • Use natural non-toxic alternatives whenever possible.
  • If you must use traditional products, spot apply only.
  • Avoid application on hard surfaces, such as curbs and driveways.
  • Stay away from creeks, ponds, and ditches as a rule. Spraying within 100 feet of these features requires a permit from the State.


  • Avoid overspray and over irrigation.
  • Fix leaks.
  • Use drip and bubbler irrigation.
  • Use low flow sprinkler heads to minimize overspray, evaporation, and runoff.

Yard Waste and Landscaping Materials

  • Keep material and debris out of the gutter and catch basins.
  • Protect bare soil.
  • Cover stockpiles and store chemicals away from rain and runoff.
  • Dispose of grass clippings, leaves, branches, sticks, or other yard waste by composting it or putting it in a yard waste bin.

Parking Areas

  • Frequently inspect parking lot areas and clean up spills or loose material immediately.
  • Parking areas must be swept rather than hosed down to prevent runoff of harmful chemicals, oils, and grease from entering a storm drain.
  • Immediately clean up wet or oily spots with rags and absorbent or a designated mop.

Clean Up

  • Use rags or an absorbent material, like kitty litter or sweep absorbent, to remove any oil, grease, or other petroleum products leaked or spilled. These must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Call your local County administered Household Hazardous Waste program or collection facility for more information and locations.
  • Sweep absorbents with a stiff broom using enough absorbent until mix is dry in appearance.
  • Cover and protect unused, materials.

Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs, and Spas

  • Never empty swimming pool water and chemicals to the storm drain. They must be drained to the sanitary sewer.
  • When cleaning pool filters, all collected materials and debris must go into the garbage.

Inform Your Tenants

  • Label storm drain inlets with simple messaging such as “No Dumping, Drains to Creek” with a clear picture or symbol.
  • All water and material that enter the storm drain system is untreated.
  • Post signs informing people that dumping waste on your property is illegal.
  • Anything dumped at your site becomes your responsibility; make sure everything is disposed of properly to avoid violations.
  • Encourage tenants to use a commercial car wash. All soaps, even those labeled “biodegradable,” are toxic to fish and wildlife. The best course of action is to prohibit car washing on the premises.
  • Post signs informing tenants to clean up pet feces and dispose of it in the garbage.


  • For proper disposal questions on hazardous materials, recycling, and toxics disposal call your local County administered Household Hazardous Waste program or collection facility.
  • Russian River-Friendly Landscape Guidelines webpage at www.rrwatershed.org/programs/RRFLG
  • Our Water Our World webpage has information on non-toxic methods of controlling pests at www.ourwaterourworld.org


Commercial operations, including maintenance companies, may qualify to dispose of hazardous chemicals for a fee through the Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator Program.

For more information and locations: https://www.streetstocreeks.org/spill-numbers/

Releasing pollutants into the storm drain system or a waterway is prohibited by local ordinance, state, and federal law.

For an emergency or a spill involving hazardous materials or hazardous waste call 911 or your local Fire Department.

For All Non-Emergency / Non-Hazardous Spills

  • To report a Non-Hazardous spill, or for other useful phone numbers, see Spill Numbers informational reference sheet for your local agency contact information or visit: www.streetstocreeks.org/spill-numbers/
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