Car Washes

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

Never allow vehicle wash water, sealants, or other chemicals used to be transported to a street, gutter, parking lot, or storm drain. If discharged or disposed of improperly, materials such as hydrocarbons, oil and grease, and heavy metals 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.

Best Practices: 

  • Sweep the pavement where autos will be cleaned before you start. 
  • Clean up wet or oily spots with rags and absorbent, or a designated mop.
  • Pour mop wash water into an inside drain.
  • Label storm drain inlets with simple messaging such as “No Dumping, Drains to Creek” with a clear picture or symbol.
  • Contain wash water and dispose of properly into the sewer system.
  • Properly contain used solvents for offsite removal.
  • If an automatic washer is being used, ensure that used water is self-contained in the unit and not allowed to discharge into the street or storm drain.

Inform Your Customers

  • Post signs to inform customers that working on vehicles is prohibited. It’s the law, call the Police if customers don’t comply.
  • 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.

Wastewater Requirements

An approved oil/water separator is required for engine cleaning wash water. A Wastewater Discharge Permit may be required. Check with your local municipality for specific requirements. 

Are You Ready to Respond to a Spill?

  • Have a written plan.
  • Train employees annually on storm water regulations, spill response, personal safety, and hazardous waste handling and disposal.
  • Have spill cleanup materials onsite.
  • Have Safety Data Sheets for all products used.

Report Spills Here

Cloverdale: (707) 894-2150
Cotati: (707) 665-3605
Healdsburg: (707) 431-7000
Rohnert Park: (707) 588-3300
Santa Rosa: (707) 543-3800,
After Hours: (707) 543-3805
Sebastopol: (707) 823-5331,
After Hours: (707) 829-4400
Ukiah: (707) 463-6288
Unincorporated County of Sonoma: (707) 565-1900
Unincorporated Mendocino County: (707) 234-6679
Windsor: (707) 838-1006,
After Hours: (707) 838-1000

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

Have you seen this in your neighborhood?