The arrival of fall starts the official “wet season” in California, and whether or not we get rain (and we really hope we do!), it’s always good to remember stormwater pollution prevention tips. When rain runs off roofs and pavements from the places where we live, shop, work and recreate, it flows onto streets and sidewalks, then enters the city’s stormdrain system via stormdrain inlets along the street gutter.

Rainwater runoff from roofs and pavement carries pollutants, such as dirt, yard waste, pet waste, metals, soaps, pesticides, trash, etc., and although some of these pollutants occur naturally when our activities add them to runoff, they often create unhealthy concentrations of pollutants in water. Unlike wastewater, which is treated prior to being released into the environment, stormwater flows untreated to local waterways and to the Sacramento River.

To help keep our stormwater and waterways free from pollutants, follow these simple pollution prevention tips:

* Avoid using water to wash down any outdoor surfaces. Use a broom, vacuum or another dry-cleaning method whenever possible.

* When draining pool or spa water into the gutter, make sure the water is clear (not green or brown), pH neutral (6.0 to 8.0), and has chlorine less than 1 part per million. You may drain without restriction to the sanitary sewer.

* Avoid washing cars at home. Instead, use a car wash facility where the wash water is drained into the sewer. If a vehicle must be washed at home, then use minimal amounts of water and biodegradable soaps and direct wash water to a landscaped area. Consider using waterless car wash products.

* Check your vehicle for leaks and have them repaired. Use a drip pan when you find a leak until it can be repaired. Clean up any leaks using dry cleanup methods.

* Dispose of household hazardous waste materials at the Yolo County landfill hazardous waste facility, every Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Yolo County landfill.

* Pick up your pet’s waste, seal it in a bag, and dispose of them in the trash (not the organics cart or yard waste pile).

* Keep rainwater from mixing with waste and prevent windblown litter by keeping the lids closed on your trash, recycling and organics bins when not in use. Limit the use of pesticides and herbicides. Look for less toxic products at

Bulky waste voucher

Have you already used your One-Time Bulky Waste Landfill Voucher to dispose of unwanted appliances, furniture and other large items for free? If you haven’t, now is the time as the voucher is valid until November 30! Some restrictions apply. Davis residents should have received their voucher in the mail at the end of July. Visit Recology’s website at or contact Recology at 530-756-4646 or for details.

— Rhys Rowland is a city of Davis Environmental Programs Specialist; this column is published monthly. Reach him at Visit for more information.