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Stormwater Pollution

Pollutants enter our creeks and rivers through storm drains that collect and convey runoff from most streets in our communities. The storm drains on your street may be stenciled with “No Dumping Flows to Bay” or a similar message. Water flowing through these storm drains is untreated and can carry pollutants to our creeks and streams, which eventually go to San Francisco Bay.

Pollution in our watersheds degrades the environment, harms wildlife habitat, impacts the economy and jobs, causes higher taxes and fees, and ultimately affects the health of humans as well. Pollutants such as motor oil, paint products, pet waste, litter, sediment, fertilizers and pesticides are washed by rain and over-watered lawns into neighborhood gutters and storm drains.

In day-to-day activities, people can cause some of these pollutants to enter storm drains and creeks without knowing that they are causing harm to the environment. Some pollutants, including pesticides, are found in our creeks at levels high enough to be toxic to aquatic life. Other pollutants, such as mercury, even in relatively small quantities, contaminate certain fish that can be harmful when eaten by small children, pregnant women, or anyone who eats these fish frequently.

Doesn’t polluted water get treated through the sewer system?

The sanitary sewer system carries wastewater from sinks, toilets and other indoor drains to local wastewater treatment plants, where processes remove most wastes before the treated water is discharged to the Bay.  However, wastewater treatment plant processes cannot remove all solvents, metals or organic chemicals from wastewater.

The storm drain system carries rainwater and other runoff from roads, parking lots, and roof down spouts directly to local creeks and the Bay, with no treatment.

What is being done to prevent pollution?

The federal Clean Water Act and the California Water Code mandate that all cities and counties, as well as businesses and industries, take steps to prevent watershed pollution. However, individuals also cause pollution and each of us can prevent it by making very simple changes at home, work, school and play. Preventing pollution is much easier and less expensive than cleaning it up.

CLICK HERE to find easy ways to prevent stormwater pollution.

You Are the Solution to Water Pollution

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