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      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation


Recognizing and Reporting Illicit Discharges and Connections

Protecting our neighborhoods, beaches and bays from ugly litter, pollutants and hazardous waste is the job of the City’s Watershed Protection Division (WPD).

However, with only a handful of inspectors, WPD is now asking the City’s 20,000 field, inspection, and maintenance personnel to contact the Stormwater Hotline, (800) 974-9794 whenever they come across abandoned waste, unintentional spills or deliberate discharges into the storm drain system.

Make the Call is the theme of the educational outreach program mandated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit which seeks to enlist all City employees in the battle against stormwater pollution. Outreach materials consist of a 15-minute video, a pocket-size instructional brochure, and a glove compartment reminder card for field vehicles.

The video and brochure describe the devastating economic, health, and environmental consequences of illicit connections and discharges into the storm drain system. It also explains how to distinguish exempt from illicit discharges and what to do when encountering abandoned waste and, also details the chain-of-events that are set in motion once someone makes the call to the Stormwater Hotline.

As explained in the video, a Stormwater Duty Officer is on hand to take reports and requests for cleanup between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If the officer is busy, callers can leave information on voice mail and will receive a prompt call back. During non-business hours, calls are automatically forwarded to the City Hall Operator who contacts a Stormwater Inspector to respond to the report.

Stormwater inspectors follow a formal protocol to ensure that spills are quickly cleaned up or contained and that hazardous materials are handled in a manner that does the least damage to the environment. The City also has a procedure for identifying and informing responsible parties and for seeking reimbursement for cleanup when possible and appropriate. Once the full course of action has been taken, the Duty Officer provides a report to the individual who made the call that initiated the action.

Illegal discharges such as shown above,
can expose a business to legal
and punitive penalties.

In addition to the 13-member team at the Watershed Protection Division, staff from the Wastewater Collection Group will also be helping to implement the education campaign for City employees. Their goal is to inform and empower all 20,000 employees as quickly as possible to Make the Call that can help protect the health and safety of local neighborhoods thereby combating storm drain and ocean pollution.

Office employees keep a Rolodex card handy (above) while field employees carry a double-sided glove compartment card (below) for quick-reference.