Storm Water Pollution Prevention Tips

Pollution Prevention Tips for Gutters & Drains

Storm drain systems were designed to prevent flooding by carrying excess rainwater away from city streets and out to the ocean. Because the system contains no filters, it now serves the unintended function of carrying urban pollution straight to the ocean. Household pollutants include oil and other automotive fluids, paint and construction debris, yard and pet wastes, pesticides, and litter. By following a few simple tips, you will be ensuring a cleaner ocean and city.

Landscaping & Gardening

  • Pesticides and herbicides not only kill garden invaders, they also harm insects, poison fish, and contaminate ground and ocean water.
  • Use organic or non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides. Do not fertilize or use pesticides near ditches, gutters, or storm drains.
  • Store pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals in a covered area to prevent runoff.
  • Do not blow, sweep, hose, or rake leaves into the street, gutter, or storm drain.
  • Place clippings and pruning waste into appropriate yard waste containers.

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal

  • Household toxic waste include household cleaners, paint products, and motor oil.
  • Take your household chemicals and toxic waste to a local Household Hazardous Waste Roundup instead of dumping them on the ground, down the sink or into a gutter, street, or storm drain.

Erosion Control

  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.
  • Cover excavated material and stockpiles of asphalt and sand with plastic tarps.
  • Prevent erosion by planting fast-growing annual and perennial grasses.


Use a crushing company to recycle cement, asphalt, and porcelain rather than taking these substances to a landfill.


Paints and solvents contain chemicals that are harmful to sea life. The chemicals come from liquid or solid products or from cleaning residues on rags. It is important to prevent these chemicals from entering storm drains.

Paint Cleanup

  • Never clean brushes or rinse paint containers into a street, gutter, or storm drain.
  • For brushes used with oil-based paints, clean brushes with thinner and then filter and reuse the thinner.
  • For brushes used with water-based paints, rinse in the sink.
  • When dry, used brushes, empty paint cans (lids off), rags, and drop cloths may be disposed in the trash

Paint Removal

  • Chemical paint stripping residue should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection site.
  • Chips and dust from marine paints or paints containing lead or tributyl tin need to be swept and taken to a hazardous waste collection site.

Paint Recycling

Reuse leftover paint for touch-ups or recycle it at a local household hazardous waste collection event.

Concrete & Masonry

  • Fresh concrete and mortar application materials can wash down or blow into the street, gutter or storm drain, posing a hazard to sea life and humans.
  • Do not mix up more fresh concrete or cement than you need.
  • Store bags of cement and plaster under cover. Protect these materials from rainfall, runoff, and wind and away from gutters and storm drains.
  • Never dispose of cement washout or concrete dust onto driveways, streets, gutters, or storm drains.