Best Management Practices For Home
Storm drains are intended to drain rain water from our streets and to prevent flooding. When this rain, along with water from households (such as landscape water), mixes with urban pollutants (oil, paint, pet waste, pesticides, litter, and other fluids), it becomes polluted urban runoff.
Because this water is not filtered or treated before it enters our rivers and waterways, storm drains also serve the unintentional purpose of transporting this urban pollution, contaminating our waterways, harming aquatic life, and increasing the risk of flooding by clogging gutters and catch basins.
To prevent polluting our waterways, follow these guidelines when performing the following tasks around your home.
Stormwater Pollution Prevention Flyer (English and Spanish PDF)
- Automotive Maintenance and Car Care
- Equipment Rentals
- Fresh Concrete and Mortar Application
- Home Repair and Remodeling
- Landscaping, Gardening, and Pest Control
- Swimming Pools, Jacuzzis, and Fountain Maintenance
(English PDF and Spanish PDF)
You can help prevent stormwater pollution during automotive maintenance and car care activities.
- Maintain facility grounds and cover or move indoors activities and materials to prevent contact with storm water.
- Label drains within the facility boundary (by paint, stencil, or equivalent) to indicate whether they flow to an oil/water separator, directly to the sewer, or to a storm drain.
- Inspect and clean, if necessary, storm drain inlets and catch basins within the facility boundary before October 1st of each year.
- Sweep parking lots and areas around your facility instead of washing them down with water.
- Do not hose down your shop floor. It is best to sweep regularly.
- Use non-toxic cleaning products. Baking soda paste works well on battery heads, cable clamps and chrome. Mix the soda with a mild, biodegradable dishwashing soap to clean wheels and tires; for windows, mix white vinegar or lemon juice with water.
- Always be prepared for spills. Clean up spills using absorbent materials (such as kitty litter, sawdust, or cornmeal) and then dispose of all waste into the trash. Never hose down spills into the storm drain system. Remember: leaks are not cleaned up until the absorbent is picked up and disposed of properly.
- Develop and maintain a spill response plan.
- Place an adequate stockpile of spill cleanup materials where it will be readily accessible.
- Spot clean leaks and drips routinely.
- Regular car maintenance prevents fluids from leaking onto streets and washing into storm drains.
- Change fluids carefully. Use a drip pan to avoid spills. Keep a drip pan under the vehicle while unclipping hoses, unscrewing filters, or removing other parts. Use a drip pan on any vehicle that might leak. Collected drips and spills must be disposed, reused, or recycled properly.
- Prevent fluid leaks from stored vehicles. Drain fluids such as unused gas, hydraulic oil, transmission, brake, and radiator fluids from vehicles or parts kept in storage.
- Monitor parked vehicles for leaks. Pans should be placed under any leaks to collect the fluids for proper disposal or recycling.
- Perform all vehicle fluid removal or changing inside or under cover. Cover outside work areas to keep rain from washing away spilled material. Extend the cover several feet beyond the area and clean up all spills immediately using a dry sweep method.
- Implement simple work practices to reduce the chance of spills. Use a funnel when pouring liquids and place a tray underneath to catch spills. Place drip pans under the spouts of liquid storage containers. Clean up spills immediately.
- Steam cleaning and pressure washing should be used instead of solvent parts cleaning, if possible. The wastewater generated from steam cleaning must be discharged to an on-site oil/water separator that is connected to a sanitary sewer or blind sump. Never discharge wastewater from steam cleaning or engine/parts cleaning to a street, gutter, or storm drain.
- Designate specific areas or service bays for engine, parts, or radiator cleaning. Do not wash or rinse parts outdoors. Keep water from flowing to storm drains, gutters, and streets.
- Use self-contained sinks and tanks when working with solvents. Keep sinks and tanks covered when not in use.
- Collect and reuse parts cleaning solvents and water used in flushing and testing radiators. When reuse is no longer possible, these solutions may be hazardous wastes and must be disposed of properly.
- Prevent oil, grease, suspended solids, and toxics from washing into storm drains.
- Designate a washing site where water drains to the sewer system. The area must be paved and well-marked as a washing area. Post signs prohibiting oil changes and washing with solvents. Train all employees to use the designated area.
- Wash vehicles with biodegradable, phosphate-free detergent. Use a hose with a nozzle to conserve water and minimize urban runoff.
Materials and Waste Handling
- Label all hazardous wastes according to hazardous waste regulations.
- Keep lids on waste barrels and containers and store them indoors or under cover to reduce exposure to rain and to prevent spills from reaching the sanitary sewer or storm drain system.
- Chemical containers that still have product in them cannot go into your regular trash. They are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly. Do not pour leftover automotive fluids down floor drains, sinks, or outdoor storm drain inlets.
- Do not leave drip pans or other open containers lying around.
- Recycle oil.
- Store waste containers of antifreeze and oil within secondary containment. Antifreeze and waste oil should be stored separately and recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste.
- Collect all metal filings, dust, and paint chips from grinding, shaving, and dispose of waste properly. Collect all dust from brake pads separately and dispose of the waste properly. Never sweep these wastes outside.
- Use dry cleaning methods (i.e., sweeping and vacuuming) to prevent the discharge of pollutants into the storm drain system.
- If waster is used, block off the storm drain to contain runoff and collect wash water to pump to the sanitary sewer through a sand/oil interceptor. If wash water does not contain soap or chemicals, it may be discharged to a pervious surface (i.e., dirt or grass).
You can help prevent stormwater pollution during your equipment rental.
- Use alternative, safer, non-toxic and /or recycled products.
- Identify and label (paint or stencil) all drains on the facility property to indicate flow to: a) an oil/water/sand interceptor or separator b) sewer system c) storm drain
- Collect all trash, litter and debris from the area and place in a proper trash bin or waste receptacle for disposal.
- Use absorbents such as mats or pads, rice hull ash, cat litter, vermiculite or sand to soak up spilled liquids.
- Sweep, vacuum, shovel and/or wipe up these saturated absorbents and dispose of properly. Absorbents used to clean up spilled automotive fluids may require disposal as hazardous waste.
- Maintain facility grounds and move or cover activities and materials to prevent contact with storm water.
- Perform major equipment repairs in a specified area or corporation yard
- Move maintenance and repair activities indoors, if possible. If this is not possible, cover the repair area with a permanent roof. Place curbs or berms around the immediate boundaries of the process equipment.
- Place drip pans or absorbent material under stored equipment.
- Do not pour liquid waste into floor drains, sinks, outdoor storm drain inlets or other storm drains.
- Transfer used fluids to the proper waste or recycling drums. Do not leave full drip pans or other open containers lying around.
- Inspect and clean leaks and drips routinely. Leaks are not cleaned up until the absorbent is picked up and disposed of properly.
- Regularly inspect equipment for leaks. Collect leaking or dripping fluids in drip pans or containers. Fluids are easier to recycle or dispose of if kept separate.
- Always use secondary containment, such as a drain pan or drop cloth, to catch spills or leaks when removing or changing fluids.
- Use secondary containment for stored equipment and inspect secondary containment routinely.
- If water is being used for cleaning shop floors and adjacent outdoor areas, contain the wash water and dispose of in the sanitary sewer or capture for offsite disposal (at an approved sanitary sewer system provider). Do not dispose of wash water in the gutter or street.
- Do not hose down work areas. If work areas are washed with water, discharge wash water to an approved pretreatment device (IE: Sand / oil / water separator or interceptor) before discharging to the sanitary sewer system.
- Protect all storm drains on the facility using mats, sandbags or berms so that wash water does not enter the storm drain system.
- Provide wash out areas for any cement / concrete equipment.
- Advise equipment renters of all rules regarding stormwater illicit discharges.
- Develop and maintain a spill response plan.
- Place an adequate stock pile of spill cleanup materials where it will be readily available.
- Spot clean leaks and drips routinely.
- Clean leaks, drips and other spills with as little water as possible. Use rags for small spills, a damp mop for general cleanup and dry absorbent material for larger spills.
- Keep all spills from entering the street, gutter or any storm drain on site or off site.
- Train employees on these practices.
- Train staff on the proper maintenance of the facility.
- Train employees on proper spill containment and cleanup procedures.
- Establish a regular training schedule, train all new employees, and conduct refresher training.
You can help prevent stormwater pollution when you apply fresh concrete or mortar.
General Business Practices
- Schedule projects for dry weather periods.
- Keep materials out of the rain. Store both dry and wet materials under cover, protected from rainfall and runoff. Also, protect dry materials from wind.
- Secure open bags of cement to keep wind-blown cement powder away from streets, gutters, storm drains, rainfall and runoff.
- When cleaning up after driveway or sidewalk construction, wash concrete dust onto dirt areas, not down the driveway or into the street or storm drain.
- Wash out concrete mixers and equipment only in designated wash-out areas, where the water flows into containment ponds or onto dirt.
- Recycle cement wash water by pumping it back into cement mixers for reuse.
- Never dispose of cement washout into driveways streets, gutters, storm drains or drainage ditches.
- Place erosion controls (i.e. berms or temporary vegetation) down slope to capture runoff carrying mortar or cement to keep it on site.
- Do not order or mix up more fresh concrete or cement than you will use.
- Set up and operate small mixers on tarps or heavy drop cloths.
- When breaking up paving (cement or asphalt), be sure to pick up all the pieces. Recycle them at a crushing company. Use the referral numbers listed in this pamphlet.
- Dispose of small amounts of excess dry concrete, grout and mortar in the trash.
- Never bury waste material. Recycle or dispose of it as hazardous waste material. For disposal information, contact the Hazardous Waste Diversion Facility, 1716 Morgan Road/North Gate, Modesto/Ceres (209) 525-4123.
You can help prevent stormwater pollution during home repair and remodeling activities.
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal
Household toxics—such as common household cleaners, pesticides, paint products, and motor oil—can pollute our waterways and poison the groundwater if not disposed of properly.
- Unused product should be taken to the Stanislaus County Household Hazardous Waste Facility for disposal (1710 Morgan Road, Modesto, open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m.—12 p.m.). Never dump these products on the ground, down the sink, or into the storm drain.
- Visit the Stanislaus County website for more information.
Concrete and Masonry
Fresh concrete and mortar application materials can wash down or blow into the street, gutters, or storm drains, posing a hazard to aquatic life in our waterways and our groundwater, as well as result in potential flooding if concrete washout hardens in the storm drain pipes.
- Do not mix up more fresh concrete or cement than you will use. Store bags of concrete, cement, and plaster under cover. Protect these materials from rainfall, runoff and wind to avoid exposure to the storm drain system.
- Never dispose of cement washout onto driveways, streets, gutters, or storm drains. Place cement washout onto heavy duty plastic, allow it to dry and then dispose of it into the trash.
Paints and solvents contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life. Toxic chemicals can come from liquid or solid products or from cleaning residues on rags. It is especially important to prevent these chemicals from entering the storm drain system.
- Never clean brushes or rinse paint containers into the street, gutter, or storm drain. Brushes and buckets containing latex-based paint can be rinsed into a sink. For oil-based paints, paint out brushes to the fullest extent possible. Clean with paint thinner, then filter and reuse the thinner. When thoroughly dry, used brushes, empty paint cans (with the lids off), rags, and drop cloths may be disposed of as trash.
- Chemical paint stripping residue, including saturated rags, is a hazardous waste and should be taken to the household hazardous waste facility or collection event.
- Chips and dust from marine paints or paints containing lead or tributyltin (TBT) are also hazardous wastes. Sweep them up and dispose of them properly.
- Reuse leftover paint for touch-ups or dispose of it as hazardous waste, where it may be recycled or donated to a local graffiti paint-out program.
(English PDF and Spanish PDF)
You can help prevent stormwater pollution during landscaping, gardening, and pest control activities by remembering the following:
Some potential pollutant sources during landscaping, gardening, and pest control activities include: landscaping material (dirt, soil, rocks, bark, and other material) making it into the storm drain system; vegetation removal; herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers; and over-watering.
Sediment is the most common pollutant washed from landscaping work sites. It can clog storm drains, leading to flooding, and can create multiple problems once it enters the river. Sediment can clog the gills of fish, blocks light transmission, and increases a river’s water temperature—all of which harm aquatic life and disturb the food chain upon which fish, animals, and people depend.
- Do not over-water. Conserve water by using irrigation practices such as drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or a micro-spray system. Over-watering will cause runoff that carries yard waste, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system.
- Recycle tree clippings and pruning waste.
- Do not blow or rake leaves into the street, gutter, or storm drain.
- Plan landscaping activities during dry weather.
- Protect storm drains when doing excavating to prevent sediment from entering the storm drain system.
- Protect stockpiles of materials with tarps or temporary roofs to protect them from rain and wind erosion.
- Place “pruned refuse” for pick up away from the gutter to minimize potential for storm drain intrusion (see MMC 4-7.1102).
- Use your green waste can to dispose of grass clippings and other yard waste that is not pruned refuse as defined in MMC 4-7.1102.
- Use fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are organic or non-toxic and follow all directions for use.
- Store fertilizer in a protected area to prevent run off.
- Plant California-native, drought resistant or low water using plants, flowers, shrubs, and ground cover.
- Plant vegetation in dirt/exposed areas that have a potential for erosion.
Alternatives to Pesticides:
- Caulking holes that pests can get into
- Create barriers to pests
- Remove pests by hand picking
- Use traps
- Predatory insects (“The 10 Most Wanted Bugs in Your Garden”)
- Bacterial insecticides
- Dehydrating dusts (e.g. silica gel)
- Insecticidal soaps
- Boric acid powder
- Horticultural oils
- Pyrethrin-based insecticides
If you must use chemicals:
- Use a pesticide that is specifically designed to control your pest. The insect should be listed on the label. Approximately 90% of the insects on your lawn and garden are not harmful.
- Read labels and use only as directed. Many home gardeners use pesticides at over 20 times the rate that farmers do.
- Do not use pesticides if rain is expected.
- Never use pesticides near water bodies, creeks, or rivers.
- Be prepared for spills. Clean up all spills using absorbent materials (such as kitty litter) and then dispose of all waste properly.
Disposal of chemical containers
- Chemical containers that still have product in them cannot go in your regular trash. They are hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.
- Empty chemical containers must be rinsed prior to disposal. The rinse water should be used in your garden just the same as the original chemical. It cannot go down the drain.
You can help prevent stormwater pollution during swimming pool, spa, and fountain maintenance.
- Filters should be cleaned and rinsed in a vegetated area, such as your grass. Rinse water should never be allowed to flow into the gutter or storm drain. If filter rinse water is discharged into the sewer system, it must flow through a backwash separation tank or sediment trap first – it is very important to filter sand and dirt particles from the water first because they can clog sewer lines.
- Per the Modesto Municipal Code (MMC 5-10.201(f)), pool water is never allowed to be drained into the street or storm drain system, even if the water is dechlorinated.
- Always drain pool water into a sewer line. For convenience, use the sewer clean-out connection in your yard, generally located near a hose bib, close to the house.
- If you are unable to locate the sewer cleanout, you can access the sewer drain in your toilet, bathtub, or sink inside your home. Be cautious that you do not flood your home if you use this option. Another option is to drain the water into a vegetated area, ensuring that it does not overflow into the gutter or storm drain.
- Always be prepared for spills. Clean up spills using absorbent materials and then dispose of all waste properly. Never hose down spills into the storm drain system.
Disposal of Chemical Containers
- Chemical containers that still have product in them cannot go into your regular trash. They are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.
- Empty chemical containers must be rinsed prior to disposal in the trash. The rinse water should be used in your pool, spa, or fountain just the same as the original chemical. It cannot go down the drain.