Anything that enters the storm drain system, including automotive waste and wash water, flows untreated into creeks and ends up in the ocean.

By following the guidelines below, your business can help prevent pollution and attract customers. A clean business and well-informed employees contribute to a great customer experience, and your employees and patrons will appreciate your leadership in implementing practices that protect environmental health. Download the guide to Best Management Practices in English and Spanish.

Pollution Prevention

  • Keep vehicles waiting for service in a covered area or place a drip pan under each vehicle to catch leaking fluids. Remove drip pans during rainstorms to prevent accidental overflow.
  • Clearly label cleaner and fluids containers and store them in a covered area. Periodically inspect the storage area and containers for improper labels, leaks or spills.
  • Cover dumpsters and waste containers. Inspect both regularly for leaks.
  • Never dispose of liquids in dumpsters.
  • Provide an adequate number of trash receptacles for your customers and employees. Post signs to control litter. Keep the receptacles covered and out of the rain.
  • Fit drains and storm drains with filters to remove oil, grease and heavy metals.
  • Fix leaks in company vehicles.
  • Contact Project Clean Water at (805) 568-3561 for more information about improving the quality of runoff from your facility through remodeling or resurfacing projects or other onsite storm water treatment methods.

Facility Cleaning and Waste Disposal

  • Never hose off fuel dispensing areas and allow the runoff to flow into the storm drain. If these areas require cleaning with water, the runoff must be collected and disposed of properly. For more information about hazardous waste disposal, call the Community Hazardous Waste Collection Center at (805) 882-3602.
  • Fluids and particulates from automobiles contain lead, cadmium, zinc and copper, which adhere to particles of dirt on pavement. Sweep parking lots and other paved areas regularly to remove this source of pollution and dispose of the collected debris in the trash.
  • If oil or other automotive fluids are present on pavement, use an absorbent material like kitty litter to soak up the liquid. Sweep up the material and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Wash water from all other cleaning areas must be disposed of in the sanitary sewer. It is illegal to allow any discharge, including wash water, to enter the storm drain.

Mobile Cleaning

  • Assign a designated wash area that is properly designed to discharge into the sanitary sewer. Post signs indicating where and how washing must be done. Obtain the required permits for discharging to the sanitary sewer from your local wastewater treatment plant.
  • If vehicles are washed in place, use a berm and vacuum system. Place berms around vehicles prior to washing to collect wash water. Vacuum up the collected wash water.
  • Or use a vacuum boom. The boom seals against the pavement and conveys collected wash water to a connected vacuum tank.
  • If these options are unavailable, use a washing mat to catch wash water. Vacuum the collected water and discharge it to the sanitary sewer.
  • Collect and recycle wash water.
  • Choose less toxic soaps, detergents and cleaners and avoid those with phosphorus.
  • Never use engine degreasers or toxic wheel cleaners for mobile operations.
  • To clean auto parts, scrape them with a wire brush rather than use liquid cleaners.
  • Use cloths to apply and absorb solvents used to remove grit and tar from car bodies. Do not rinse the solvents off with water.
  • Avoid using glass cleaners that contain ammonia. Instead, use a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar to clean glass.
  • Use soap and water for cleaning vinyl surfaces.
  • Dispose of all debris removed from a vehicle in a proper trash receptacle. Do not sweep debris into the street or parking lot.

Spill Prevention and Clean Up

  • Use dry clean up methods such as rags for small spills and drips and absorbents for larger spills.
  • If cleaning spills with water, use a vacuum or a mop and bucket to contain the waste and seal off any storm drains in the area. Properly dispose of the wash water depending on the waste type.
  • Contain and clean up large hazardous spills with absorbent materials such as a petroleum-selective absorbent. Absorbents contaminated with petroleum must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Inform Your Employees!

  • Hold staff meetings to discuss the importance of pollution prevention.
  • Train new employees on procedures to help prevent water pollution while on the job.
  • Clearly label drains within your facility boundary, identifying drains that go to an oil/water separator or sanitary sewer from those that drain to the storm drain.
  • Clearly label areas where wash water may not be dumped.
  • Post reminders near dumpsters that remind employees to keep liquid waste out of dumpsters.
  • Train employees in the proper clean up of spills.
  • Make pollution prevention part of your employee performance rating.