Stormwater Pollution Prevention

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Anything we use in our home or cars, like paint, pesticide, fertilizers, cleaners and motor oil can enter the street gutters and contribute to stormwater pollution. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to prevent pollution. H2OC What is Runoff


Keeping lawns and gardens looking good isn't always good for our environment. Sprinkler runoff carries pesticides and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Leaves, grass clippings and yard waste get swept or blown into the street, clogging catch basins and polluting waterways.

Pesticides and Fertilizers:

  • Before using, read product labels and follow the directions.
  • Use non-toxic alternatives to traditional pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Never apply pesticides or fertilizers before rain or near storm drains, channels, creeks or other water bodies.
  • Do not over apply pesticides and fertilizers. Spot apply, rather than blanketing an entire area.
  • Take unwanted pesticides and fertilizers to a household hazardous waste collection site to be recycled.

Wise Water Use:

  • Control the amount of water and direction of sprinklers, to avoid waste and runoff. The average lawn requires an inch of water each week, including rainfall, or 10-20 minutes of watering. A half-inch per week is enough for fall and spring.
  • Water your lawn early in the morning so water has time to soak into the soil before the heat of the sun causes evaporation. Sprinklers should be left on long enough to allow water to soak into the ground but not so long to cause runoff.
  • Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses and micro spray systems, to better control the amount of water you use.
  • Periodically inspect and fix leaks and misdirected sprinklers

Yard Waste:

  • Recycle leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste, instead of blowing, sweeping or hosing them into the street or gutter.
  • Try grasscycling, letting grass clippings drop on your lawn, instead of using a grass catcher. The clippings act as a natural fertilizer, returning nutrients and organic matter back to the soil, and because grass is mostly water, it also irrigates your lawn, conserving water. Reducing the need to water as often or use toxic fertilizers means less contaminated runoff from your lawn.


Paints, solvents, adhesives, debris and toxic materials from home repair and remodeling are often swept, blown or washed into the Newport Beach storm drain system and go untreated into channels, creeks, bays and oceans. 


  • Use water-based paints whenever possible. Look for products labeled “latex” or “cleans with water.”
  • Avoid cleaning brushes or rinsing containers in the street or gutter. For water-based paint, rinse them in the sink. For oil-based paint, clean them with thinner, which can be filtered and reused.
  • Never dump paint or paint-related products in the trash, gutter or a storm drain. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site to be recycled.
  • Paint stripping residue, chips and dust from marine paints and paints containing lead or tributyl tin are hazardous wastes. Sweep them up and take them in a sealed container to a household hazardous waste collection site.

Construction and Remodeling:

  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.
  • Practice source reduction. Order only the amount of material needed to complete the project.
  • Use recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible.
  • Keep all construction debris away from the street, gutter and storm drains.
  • Prevent erosion and sediment runoff by covering excavated material and piles of asphalt, sand and similar materials with plastic tarp.
  • Never dispose of cement washout or concrete dust into driveways, streets, gutters or storm drains.
  • Recycle broken asphalt, concrete, wood and cleared vegetation. Non-recyclables should be disposed of as a hazardous waste.
  • Reduce erosion by avoiding excavation or grading activities during wet weather, and by planting temporary vegetation on slopes where construction is not immediately planned.
  • Use berms and diversion dikes to channel and contain runoff.
  • Prevent mortar and cement from entering storm drains by placing erosion controls such as berms or temporary vegetation down-slope to capture runoff.
  • Wash concrete mixers and equipment only in specified wash-out areas, where the water flows into containment ponds. Cement wash water can be recycled by pumping it back into cement mixers for reuse.
  • Never dispose of cement washout into driveways, streets, gutters or drainage ditches.
  • Cover exposed piles or bags of soil, cement and other construction materials with plastic sheeting to prevent it from blowing or washing into the storm drain system.


Taking care of our cars takes a toll on our environment. Motor oil, filters, anti-freeze, and other toxic fluids from our cars leak, spill or are dumped into the street, flowing untreated through the storm drain system to our channels, creeks, bays and oceans.

Changing Your Oil and Oil Filter:

  • Have your oil changed by a professional. If you do it yourself, recycle your used oil and oil filter at a certified collection center or household hazardous waste collection site.
  • Buy recycled motor oil for your car. Concerned about quality or performance? Mercedes Benz, known for its standards of quality and engineering, uses recycled motor oil in all their new vehicles.
  • Clean up leaks and spills with an absorbent materials such as cat litter. Sweep and dispose.
  • Antifreeze is extremely toxic. Drain your radiator into a drip pan to avoid spills, and take the old antifreeze in a sealed container to a household hazardous waste collection site.

Washing Your Car:

  • Wash your vehicle at a washing facility that reclaims wash water, preventing oil, grease and toxic fluids from washing into the street and the storm drain system.
  • Use only soaps, cleaners and detergents labeled phosphate free or biodegradable. The safest products for the environment are vegetable based or citrus based soaps.
  • Select a site where the wash water can soak into grass, gravel or be diverted to nearby landscaping.


During rainfall, pet and other animal waste left on lawns, beaches, trails and sidewalks can wash into storm drains. These wastes flow untreated directly into our creeks, bays and the ocean.

  • Nearly one-third of Newport Beach residents own a dog, and a lot of dog waste gets left on sidewalks and streets. Make sure to always have a bag to clean up and dispose of your pet's waste
  • If possible, bathe your pets indoors, using less toxic shampoos, or have your pet professionally groomed.


When conducting horse and livestock activities such as building a corral, feeding livestock or cleaning and grooming horses, follow these simple tips to prevent discharges from entering storm drains.

  • Restrict animal access to creeks and streams, preferably by fencing.
  • Cover and protect manure storage facilities from rainfall and surface runoff.
  • Animal areas should be swept or shoveled at least once a day, and not hosed down to a stream or storm drain.


Food waste, grease, cleaning solvents, mop water and trash from restaurant operations often make their way into the Newport Beach storm drain system, polluting local waterways.

  • Clean floor mats, filters and garbage cans in a mop sink, floor drain or proper outside area, not the parking lot, alley, sidewalk or street.
  • Pour washwater into a janitorial or mop sink, not outside in the parking lot, alley, sidewalk or street.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Recycle grease and oil, instead of pouring it into sinks, floor drains or into a parking lot or the street.
  • Dispose of all unwanted tactic materials like cleaning products through a hazardous waste hauler. These items are not trash.
  • Use dry methods for spill cleanup, by sweeping and using cat litter instead of hosing.
  • Have spill containment and cleanup kits available for possible spills on your property. To report serious toxic spills, call 911.
  • Keep dumpster lids closed and the areas around them clean. Do not fill with liquid waste or hose them out. Call your trash hauler to replace any dumpsters that leak.
  • Sweep outside areas regularly and put the debris in the garbage, instead of sweeping or hosing it into the parking lot or the street.

For more information contact the City of Newport Beach's Water Quality Division at  949-644-3218.