Vehicle Maintenance

People caring for their vehicle can unknowingly impact local waterways while performing routine maintenance. Materials spilled or leaked onto the ground or pavement, such as oil, antifreeze, gasoline, and other auto fluids have the potential to be carried by rain or residential water use into our local creeks.

These can be harmful to water quality and creek habitats.

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.

How are the Storm Drain and Sanitary Sewer Systems Different?

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.

Clean creeks are important. They provide vital fish habitat, recreation, and add to the beauty of our city.

Job Preparation

  • Check the weather; Avoid work outdoors if rain is forecasted.
  • Be prepared. Have materials on hand to contain spills. This may include materials such as a squeegee; dustpan; large bucket; rag; absorbent material.
  • Sweep work area before starting.
  • Place a tarp under vehicle and materials for easier clean-up of any spilled material.

Best Practices

  • Perform all work activities inside a well-ventilated garage.
  • Immediately clean up drips or small spills.
  • Take your vehicle to a licensed auto repair facility for any major repair.
  • Separate hazardous wastes and use secondary containment for storage.
  • Properly contain used solvents for offsite removal.
  • Securely seal containers.
  • Cover and protect discarded parts/materials from rain.
  • Avoid use of acid-based wheel cleaners or solvent based degreasers.

Refilling Vehicle Fluids

  • Carefully fill vehicle fluids; avoid drips.
  • Immediately clean up any drips or spilled fluid – see Clean Up.
  • Recycle used oil, antifreeze, oil filters and other household toxics. Call (707) 565-DESK (3375) for more information and locations.

Check for Leaks

  • Look for dark patches or evidence of a fluid under your vehicle.
  • Use a drip pan under the vehicle to collect the drips before it is fixed.

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 (707) 565-DESK (3375) 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.
  • Use dry cleanup methods only   (i.e. broom or shop vac).

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

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

Have you seen this in your neighborhood?