Pollution Prevention

Some common stormwater pollutants you may encounter:

Common Pollutants
  • Oil and grease from automotive leaks and spills or improper disposal of automotive products. Metals and hydrocarbons can found in motor vehicle exhaust, brake and tire wear, paint, metal plating, and motor oil.
  • Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers from lawns, gardens, and farms, as well as improper disposal of these materials.
  • Sediment and soil erosion from lawns, hillsides, and construction activities.
  • Biological contaminants from animal waste and cross connections, and leaks or overflows from sanitary sewers and septic tank systems.
  • Pet waste and horse manure from improper management or disposal.
  • Trash from illegal dumping, encampments, caught in storm drains, picked up by the wind, as well as improper disposal.

​Call the your local sanitary sewer district or city's public works department for sewer overflows, and the Department of Environmental Health (408) 918-3400 for septic tank system discharges.​

Implementing these practices at commercial and industrial facilities will decrease the chance of an accidental spill or leak, and will prepare employees for appropriate clean up and reporting. 

Site Maintenance/ Housekeeping

  • Site Maintenance Housekeeping
    Keep storm drains clear and clean, mark drains with “No Dumping” labels to discourage accidental dumping.
  • Keep outdoor processing and storage areas clean by performing regular maintenance and sweeping. Do not hose down areas to the storm drain. Do not hose down areas to the storm drain.
  • Contain and store materials in a way that if a spill occurs, it will not enter the storm drain system. Use secondary containment such as drip pans and/or absorbent materials.
  • Keep materials, equipment, trash cans, and potential contaminants covered to reduce the chance of pollutants entering the storm drain system.
  • Store and maintain appropriate spill cleanup materials in a location known to all employees, and near storage and other areas where a spill may occur.
  • Train all employees to safely and properly handle materials as to avoid spills, and to safely clean up a spills if they occur.

Spill Response

If a spill or leak occurs at your business, be prepared to safely respond by developing an effective Spill Response Plan.

  1. Train all employees how to safely and effectively respond in the case of a spill or leak.
  2. Clean up spills and leaks immediately.
  3. Clean up spills with as little water as possible. Never hose down or bury spills. Sweep up or absorb materials and dispose of properly.
  4. Large spills may require a private cleanup company or the city of county Hazardous Materials response team. 
  5. Have the contact information for these services posted on site.
  6. Develop reporting procedures to keep a record of spills and leaks.

Store cleanup materials where readily accessible. Your spill kit should include:

  • Spill Response
    Absorbent kitty litter or sand
  • Absorbent pads, pillows, and booms
  • Trash bags
  • Inlet protection; and
  • Safety goggles and gloves.

Develop a Spill Response Plan that:

  • Provides training to all employees on spill prevention, response, and cleanup.
  • Integrates with existing emergency response/hazardous materials programs.
  • Outlines detailed procedures to prevent/mitigate spills to storm drain system Standardizes storage, containment, and disposal activities Standardizes reporting, documentation, and follow-up procedures.

​Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

Vehicle and equipment operations and maintenance may be a source of pollution if not managed properly. 

  • Regularly inspect vehicles and equipment for leaks, and repair immediately.
  • Perform all vehicle fluid removal and changing indoors or in a covered area to prevent contact with rainwater.
  • Check incoming equipment (including leased equipment and employee vehicles) for leaking fluids. Do not allow leaking vehicles or equipment onsite.
  • Always use secondary containment to catch spills when removing or changing fluids. 
  • Immediately drain all fluids from wrecked vehicles.
  • Store wrecked or damaged equipment under cover to avoid contact with stormwater.
  • Use absorbent materials for spill cleanup, and promptly and properly dispose of materials.
  • Promptly transfer used fluids to the proper waste or recycling drums. Do not leave full drip pans or other open containers lying around site.
  • Disposing of oil filters in trashcans or dumpsters causes leaks and contamination. Store used oil filters in a closed container; recycle filters as soon as possible.
  • Store used batteries in a secondary container; recycle batteries as soon as possible.


Trash, such as various plastics, polystyrene, glass, and toxic chemicals can enter
our local creeks and rivers through different pathways like illegal dumping, encampments, wind, and the storm drain system. Once in creeks and rivers, trash can flow to larger waterways, including the San Francisco and Monterey Bays. It damages natural habitats, harms fish and wildlife, and pollutes recreational fishing and boating areas. Picking up litter on the ground and creek cleanups play a very important role in protecting our waterways. 

Trash left on the ground

Ways to prevent trash from entering our waterways:

  • Use reusable bags, cups, and other utensils to minimize plastic waste. 
  • Find creative ways to reuse or upcycle items such as glass bottles, paper bags, and boxes.
  • Don't overfill trash and recycling bins, which prevents trash spilling out and entering a storm drain or being carried off by the wind.
  • Close lids on all trash and recycling bins.
  • Dispose of household hazardous waste through Santa Clara County's Household Hazardous Waste Program​.
  • Report illegal dumping (see below for contact information).
  • Volunteer at a Creek Cleanup event where your help makes a huge impact​.

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