What is Pollution?Pollution is when something introduced into the environment has a harmful effect. Stormwater runoff can pick up pollutants as it flows across pavement and down gutters and into storm drain inlets in the street. Some common pollutants found in stormwater include:
- Animal waste
- Litter (particularly plastics)
- Motor oil or antifreeze (often from cars that drip oil onto roads and driveways)
- Yard trimmings
- Paint or cement from home projects
- Fertilizers and pesticides (washed off from landscaping)
- Dirty water from washing cars (from cars that are washed in parking lots, streets and driveways)
- Dirty pool water that may also be too high in chlorine and not pH neutral
- Water containing soil
Polluted water is dangerous for humans and the environment. In Davis, stormwater isn’t cleaned or treated before it flows into local waterways. This means that any litter or pollutants that are picked up as water is traveling to the storm drains can end up in local waterways and wetlands. Polluted stormwater can make fish and animals sick and be hazardous to humans.
What Can I Do?
It’s important to keep pollutants out of stormwater. Here are some simple ways you can prevent pollution and keep our waterways clean and healthy.
Waste and Recycling
- Ensure that lids on trash, recycling and organics carts are closed in order to keep rainwater out and to prevent wind from blowing waste out of the carts. Keep fluids out of these bins.
- Always be sure to put waste in the proper carts. Never leave litter on the ground.
- Recycle and compost as much of your waste as possible.
- Securely bag any trash so that it doesn’t blow out of the cart when it’s being emptied.
- When possible, limit the use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics, including water bottles and straws, are a significant source of plastic pollution. Plastics do not biodegrade and they bond with toxic chemicals already existing in the environment. Plastics can enter the food chain and the concentration of toxic chemicals increases as the plastics move up the food chain.
Wash your dog in a bathtub, at a pet wash facility, or on your grass to keep dirty water out of the stormdrain. Limit the amount of water used so as not to create runoff.
- Always pick up pet waste, seal it in a bag, and put it in the trash bin. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that can kill fish and make animals and humans sick. Dog and cat waste should never go in the organics cart or in on-street yard material piles (even if it’s bagged). Chicken and rabbit manure are acceptable in the organics carts.
- When using latex paint, washing off your painting equipment and brushes in the sink is the best option. If washing in the sink is not an option, you can wash latex painting equipment into the landscaping using limited amounts of water. Don't let any water reach the street. More information on painting and stormwater pollution prevention.
- Direct downspouts on your house to drain to landscaping rather than walkways and driveways. Disperse the energy of the water at the base of the downspouts with rock cobbles. Downspouts can carry a lot of water when it rains, washing oil off pavement and carrying litter down storm drains. Directing downspouts to grass can allow the water to soak into the soil instead.
- If your car is dirty, take it to a car wash facility where the rinse water is recycled and sent to the wastewater treatment plant for cleaning.
- If you wash your car at home, use a small amount of water. Use only soaps, cleaners, or detergents labeled "non-toxic", "phosphate free", or "biodegradable". Allow the dirty water to flow into your landscaping. You can also use a waterless carwash kit. More information on car washing.
- Properly clean oil spills and leaks from your car. Use kitty litter to soak up the oil, then sweep up the soaked kitty litter. Dispose of the used litter with hazardous wastes. You can also use a rag to wipe up the oil.
- Keep your car in good repair and ensure that it is not leaking oil and other fluids.
Yard and Gardening Tips
- Make sure that your irrigation sprinklers do not spray onto pavement and create runoff that reaches the street.
- Make sure to turn off hoses at the spigot.
- After gardening, sweep any dirt or fertilizers left on the sidewalk back into your yard to ensure it won’t be blown by wind or washed by water down the storm drains. Avoid applying fertilizers when it’s windy or just before rain events.
- Use less toxic pesticides and fertilizers as recommended by Our Water Our World.
- If you are planning a garden, add a border to keep the mulch and soil in place and prevent it from being washed into the gutter.
- Rake fallen leaves and place them in the brown-lidded organics cart. Never blow them into the street. You can also leave them in your yard and utilize them as a natural mulch.
- Drain pool water into the wastewater (sewer) collection system. Most properties have a sewer clean out (an access to the collection line) in their front yard, usually close to the building. You can also drain water from the pool to a washing machine drain out or a utility sink if you can’t find your sewer clean out.
- Pool water may contain chlorine and other chemicals, algae, or dirt that can be harmful to aquatic plants, fish, and humans. You can water your yard with pool water as long as it doesn’t run off into the street, is chlorine-free and pH neutral. More information on pools.
- Consider installing bat boxes or owl boxes to encourage natural predators such as owls and bats.
Test Your Pollution Prevention Knowledge!
- Stormwater Pollution Prevention Guide (PDF)
- Storm Drain Marker Installation Program (PDF)
- Car wash (PDF)
- Davis Public Works Environmental Guide
Environmentally Friendly Weed Control and Pest Management:
- Backyard composting (PDF)
- Worm composting (PDF)
- Food scrap composting (PDF)
- Yard Material Management (PDF)
Home Improvement and Landscaping
- Residential Permit Application Checklist (PDF)
- Residential Zoning Compliance Checklist (PDF)
- Painting (PDF)
- Pool and Spa Maintenance (PDF)