It is illegal to allow anything other than rain water to be discharged to a storm drain.
Wash water should never be discharged to 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.
How are the Storm Drain and Sanitary Sewer Systems Different?
Throughout urban communities, the storm drain system transports rainwater to local creeks, rivers, and the ocean. This system was created to prevent flooding within communities and homes.
All water and materials that enter the storm drain system is untreated.
The sanitary sewer is a plumbed system that transports used water from buildings to a wastewater collection and treatment facility, where the water and sewage is treated.
If you see an outdoor drain and are unsure of its use, assume it is a storm drain and do not discharge wash water to it.
Clean creeks are important. They provide vital fish habitat, recreation, and add to the beauty of our city.
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.
- Dry Cleanup first: Vacuum debris off carpets before cleaning the carpeted area to reduce the material in wash water.
- Drain wash water to a sewer clean-out or collect the wash water and pour into an inside drain.
- Filter wash water through a wire mesh strainer, place any solids into the trash.
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.
Where Can You Dispose of Wash Water?
All carpet cleaners who conduct cleaning operations, which generate wash water must perform cleaning operations based on established Best Management Practices (BMPs).
With permission from the sanitary district and the property owner, wash water from carpet cleaners can be discharged into a:
- Floor, Utility or Mop Sink
- Drain connected to sanitary sewer system
Carpet cleaners need to contact the local sanitary district to procure a discharge permit, if required, before discharging their wash water to the sanitary sewer system.
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/