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

Painters products (paint, solvents, paint removers) and processes (preparation, painting, and clean-up) can introduce pollutants into our environment.  If spilled or disposed of improperly, paints, solvents, paint chips, and sanding debris 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:

Job Preparation

  • Check the weather; Avoid work outdoors if rain or high wind is forecasted.
  • Paint stripped with any chemical must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  • Process water and paint stripped by a power-washer must be collected in a tank and strained/filtered to remove all paint chips prior to disposal to a sanitary sewer.
  • When Power Washing any surface, refer to the “Power Washer Guidelines” document and/or your local municipality for requirements and regulatory compliance.
  • Lead based paints (or paint applied prior to 1972) are considered hazardous materials and require special permitted procedures.
  • Paint chips and dust from non-hazardous dry stripping and sand blasting must be swept up and disposed of as trash.
  • Chips and dust from marine paints or paint containing lead or tributyl tin are hazardous wastes; dry sweep and call the ECO-DESK HOTLINE at (707) 565-3375 for disposal options.
  • Be prepared. Have materials on hand to contain paint spills. This may include materials such as a squeegee; dustpan; large bucket; rag; storm drain inlet protection; wet/dry vac to collect the runoff from rinsing down any spill area.

Do It Right

  • Cover and protect unused or left-over paint.
  • Set-up and operate on tarps or drop cloths for easier clean-up of spilled material, including areas for paint preparation and storage, painting, and clean-up.
  • When transporting paint, make sure containers are securely tied in the vehicle to prevent costly spills on the roadway.
  • Reuse paint thinner by setting thinner aside in a closed jar to settle out paint particles, and then pour off clear liquid for future use.  Dispose of residue as hazardous waste.
  • Recycle empty, dried-out, water-based paint cans in your blue single-stream recycling cart.

Clean Up

  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Never hose paint down a street gutter, or storm drain.
  • Water-based paints, brushes, rollers, and spray equipment can be cleaned in a bucket or sink and discharged to the sanitary sewer.
  • Oil-based paints and solvent cleaners must be treated as hazardous waste.

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.

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 are 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.

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?