Washing cars releases many different types of pollutants, including oil and grease, solvents, detergents, and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium and zinc. If spilled or disposed of improperly these contaminants can pollute our local creeks and sewer system and cause harm to the public and the environment.
The most important thing to know about sewers and storm drains is that they are two different systems. When water flows off your property, it flows directly into the storm water drainage system. The storm water drainage system consists of street gutters, inlets, catch basins, and ditches. Many people believe that storm water gets “cleaned” but it does not. Rather, it flows directly into our creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean without any treatment at all. Only the water that goes down a sink, toilet, into an oil/water separator, or another inside drain flows to the wastewater treatment plant. Toxic material cannot be discharged to either system.
As a valued member of the local business community, we know that you are invested in protecting the quality of life that your customers, members of the community, and visitors enjoy.
It is required that all car wash facilities in Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol that discharge to the sewer obtain a Wastewater Discharge Permit with the Environmental Compliance Section. For a Wastewater Discharge Application go to srcity.org/autoapp. Car wash facilities are also required to have a sump or oil/water separator that takes in all wash water from each wash stall prior to the connection to the City’s sewer system.
Keep Your Property Clean
- Check and clean your property regularly.
- Sweep up all debris, including any debris from your parking lot, and never wash it down the storm drain.
- Clean up wet or oily spots with rags and absorbent or a designated mop.
- Pour the mop wash water into an inside drain only (be aware that even mops and wash water may need to be disposed of as hazardous waste if used to clean up gas or oil).
- Label storm drain inlets with “No Dumping, Drains to Creek” decals. Contact Storm Water and Creeks at (707) 543-4200 for more information.
- Never let power washing or steam cleaning water go to the storm drain. It must be collected and disposed of into a sewer drain.
- Sweep the trash areas daily. Never use a hose in your dumpster or on the pavement.
- Replace damaged dumpsters by calling your garbage company.
- Keep dumpster lids closed to keep rain out and debris in.
- Store materials inside or under a cover so rain and wind don’t carry them to the storm drain.
Do It Right
- Make sure wash water doesn’t get into the storm drain.
- The use of cleaning solvents containing petroleum distillates is prohibited. Spot cleaning with citrus-based cleaners is allowed.
- Engine cleaning wash water must be discharged through an approved oil/water separator. A Wastewater Discharge Permit will be required if you have an oil/water separator. For a Wastewater Discharge Permit Application go to www.srcity.org/autoapp.
- If an automatic washer is being used, ensure that the water being used is self-contained in the unit and isn’t running into the street or storm drain.
Inform Your Customers
- Post signs to inform customers that working on vehicles and the use of oil degreasers or other car cleaning products is prohibited.
- It’s the law! Call Police if customers don’t comply.
- Post signs informing people that dumping waste on your property is illegal.
- Only rain down the storm drain! Keep all products, water, and soap out of the storm drain, out of gutters, and off of the pavement.
- Train employees on disposal of water, chemical handling, and product disposal.
- Annually retrain employees in all of these topics.
- Keep training records up to date.
Are You Ready to Respond to a Spill?
- Have a written plan.
- Train your employees on procedures and equipment use.
- Have your plan and spill cleanup equipment accessible.
- Know how to handle hazardous materials.
- Report hazardous spills.
Santa Rosa Contact Information
- To report a spill call (707) 543-3800.
- To report a hazardous material spill, such as oil or gasoline products call 911 or (707) 528-5151.
- For more information about obtaining a Wastewater Discharge Permit call the Environmental Compliance Section at (707) 543-3369 or visit srcity.org/envcompliance
- To get information on recycling and proper disposal of materials call (707) 565-DESK (3375), or go to www.recyclenow.org
- To get information on toxics disposal specifically call (707) 795-2025.
- To get information regarding dumpsters contact your garbage company at (707) 568-1478.
- For help implementing these measures or if you have questions about storm water call (707) 543-4200.
Releasing pollutants into the storm drain system or a waterway violates the City of Santa Rosa’s Storm Water and Sanitary Sewer Use Ordinances.