Stormwater home page City of Los Angeles home page
      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation
The handbook, Preventing Stormwater Pollution, (shown at left) is provided as a reference that reinforces the material outlined in the video and describes how employees can reduce stormwater pollution both on the job and at home. Each division within the City of Los Angeles will be responsible for ensuring that its employees view the video and receive a copy of the handbook for review.

City employees are also encouraged to download the Stormwater Program publication, Make the Call, a pocket-size primer on spotting illicit discharges while conducting their duties.

CONTENTS

We Are the Leaders

This guide is a tool for you to use as part of the City’s commitment to stop stormwater pollution. The following guidelines have been developed to help us reach this goal. Take this tool with you and use these Best Management Practices (BMPs) wherever you work in the City.

Santa Monica bay, San Pedro bay, and our rivers are being polluted on a daily basis. The number one cause is urban runoff–water that washes everything left on city streets and in gutters through the storm drain system. This amounts to 10 to 25 million gallons of runoff a day during dry weather flowing untreated into the rivers and the ocean.

The time to clean up our water is now—and it starts with us!

Do You Know Where it Goes?

It’s simple.

What goes into a storm drain and is flushed with rainwater, or daily urban runoff…goes untreated into our rivers and ocean.

URBAN FORM

WASTE SYSTEM

END RESULT

gutters
driveways
streets
catch basins
STORM DRAIN
Untreated water released to rivers and ocean
flush toilets
sinks
showers
washing machines
SEWER
Treated water is released to ocean
trash cans
dumpsters
LANDFILLS
Untreated wastes are dumped into landfills
reuse and recycle
RECYCLING
no effect on our waterways
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Be Aware of What Causes Pollution

…and what effect it has on our water. These wastes from work and every day activities are among the most common stormwater and urban runoff pollutants:

Used motor oil and grease- automotive maintenance, urban housekeeping yard and warehouse activities, construction, spills and illegal dumping

Foam cups, plastics, cigarette butts, and paper- litter, general housekeeping (in all types of work and leisure)

Trimmings from trees, landscaping and lawns- grounds and building maintenance, landscaping activities, tree and park maintenance, home and yard maintenance

Antifreeze, cleaners and solvents- automotive maintenance, urban housekeeping and landscaping, building and grounds maintenance, spills and illegal dumping

Pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides- grounds and building maintenance, landscaping activities, tree and park maintenance, urban housekeeping, over watering

Sediment- erosion from construction, landscaping, building and grounds maintenance

Pet droppings, viruses and bacteria– urban housekeeping, non-stormwater connections to storm drains, leaking septic tanks

CLOSES OUR BEACHES FROM CONTAMINATED STORMWATER

CAUSES ILLNESS IN SWIMMERS, WADERS AND SURFERS

CONTAMINATES AND KILLS FISH AND OTHER MARINE LIFE

CLOGS STORM DRAINS AND CAUSES NEIGHBORHOOD FLOOD CONDITIONS

HARMS THE FRESHWATER HABITAT OF OUR RIVERS

AFFECTS TOURISM

REDUCES OUR QUALITY OF LIFE

COSTS TAXPAYERS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR LOCAL CLEAN UP

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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

All City of Los Angeles employees can reduce the volume of litter, foam cups, plastic, and other debris on city streets, rivers beaches and bays by waste reduction and recycling—something you already do every day… right?

Recycle paper, cans glass, and plastics in your office

Order smaller volumes of office supplies to avoid waste and save money

Use washable drinking cups (ceramic, glass, plastic) in the office and keep a supply in the lunchroom cabinets

Follow all City recycling and waste reduction guidelines

Dispose with Care

All City employees dispose of some amount of waste…and disposing with care to prevent urban and environmental pollution will make Los Angeles a cleaner, healthier place to live and work.

  • Keep trash dumpster lids closed and don’t put liquid, or hazardous wastes in them. Sweep dumpster areas frequently and if your dumpster leaks, get it fixed or get a new one
  • Pick up dropped trash and if you go outdoors to smoke, don’t toss cigarette butts into the street or gutter. Use the doorway receptacle or bring an ashtray with you
  • Clean up wastes with a broom rather than hosing down with water
  • Do not put hazardous wastes in trash containers and DO NOT put these wastes in storm drains or sewers
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Prevent Spills

City employees can reduce toxic chemicals, heavy metals, cleaning solutions, and automotive fluids (like oil, grease, antifreeze, and solvents) from entering waterways by preventing spills on the job or cleaning them up immediately when they happen.

Wash water draining to the street is one way that litter, oil, rotting leaves and toxic pollutants are transported from our job sites and homes, and into storm drains and waterways

PREVENTION

CLEANING SPILLS THE RIGHT WAY

Take the time to use precautions to prevent spills
Have a spill cleanup plan
Sweep and dry mop frequently to reduce the amount of dirt, fluids, and other residues that accumulate where you work
Clean up spills promptly when they do happen
Sweep or dry mop whenever possible, especially outdoors
Clean up using as little amount of water as possible
Have a spill prevention plan
Keep rags and other absorbents ready at hand for spills
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Maintain Equipment Diligently

All City employees, particularly those who maintain the City’s cars, trucks, and other vehicles, and those who operate them, can prevent contamination of the storm drain system by good housekeeping and diligent maintenance.

FUELING:

  • Prevent spills
  • Cover fueling areas to reduce exposure to rainfall
  • Sweep or use other dry methods rather than hose down the fuel area for cleaning
  • Post signs warning against "topping off"
  • Read and follow the guidelines that apply in the City’s pamphlet: "Best Management Practices for Gasoline Stations" (call the Stormwater Hotline for more information: 800-974-9794)

INVENTORY:

  • Maintain an organized inventory of materials … know what you have in the shop or yard
  • Label and track recycling of waste materials (e.g., used oil, spent solvents, batteries)

VEHICLE AND EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE:

  • Keep your work area clean
  • Inspect for leaks, malfunctions, and staining on or around vehicles and equipment
  • Drain oil filters before disposal or recycling
  • Drain and contain all fluids from wrecked vehicles or equipment that has to be replaced
  • Store cracked batteries in a non leaking secondary container
  • Do not leave full drip pans or other open containers of used liquids laying around

OUTDOOR VEHICLE AND EQUIPMENT STORAGE AND PARKING:

  • Use drip pans for vehicles and equipment waiting for maintenance
  • Park under cover to prevent exposure to rainfall

WASHING AREAS:

  • Avoid washing parts or equipment outside
  • Wash equipment or vehicles on in designated areas where sumps or drains collect wash water for releasing into the sanitary sewer system
  • Use barriers or absorbent pads to prevent dirty, polluted wash water from entering a storm drain inlet
  • Contain and recycle wash water. Don’t let wash water flow into the gutter or storm drain. However, City residents are currently allowed to do this

BASIC DO’S AND DON’TS:

Do use good housekeeping practices and be diligent about following routine maintenance procedures

Don’t allow spills, leaks, wastes or washwater from vehicles or equipment to enter the storm drain

Handle and Store Materials Safely

All City employees who work in warehouses, or store materials in yards or shops can reduce waste and pollution by ensuring none of these materials get spilled or washed into the storm drain system.

FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS

Read and follow handling instructions for all the materials you store

STORAGE CONTAINERS

  • Make sure storage containers are spill-proof; inspect for leaks and perform routine maintenance
  • Inspect storage tanks and piping systems for leaks or failures and perform routine maintenance
  • Use safeguards (such as berms or secondary containment basins) against accidental releases of liquids from storage areas
  • Store materials in appropriate containers

STORE UNDER COVER

  • Protect stored materials from rainwater
  • Store materials indoors and on pallets, if possible
  • Cover materials stored outdoors with sheets or plastic or other types of cover to prevent exposure to rainfall
  • Store hazardous materials according to federal, state, and local requirements
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Maintain Buildings and Grounds Wisely

All City employees—who clean our municipal buildings, City sidewalks and plazas; trim the tens of thousands of street trees throughout Los Angeles; and maintain our parks and grounds—can make an enormous difference in whether or not dirt, grime, and chemicals reach our regions rivers and beaches.

BUILDINGS, SIDEWALKS, PLAZAS, PARKING LOTS:

  • Cleanup without water whenever possible by sweeping or wiping
  • Prevent and clean up spills
  • Clean up debris and litter so they do not get washed into storm drains
  • Avoid using detergents in steam or pressure washing
  • Clean catch basins and storm drains regularly

PROPERTY AND GROUNDS MAINTENANCE

  • Control soil erosion
  • Recycle lawn clippings, trimmings from trees and other landscaping
  • Use only the right types and amounts of fertilizer, herbicides, and/or pesticides for your landscaping
  • Do not overwater (excess water transports pollutants off your property into the storm drain system)
  • Avoid applying fertilizers, Pesticides or herbicides during rainy weather
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Prevent Pollution During Construction

All City employees who work in construction, either as laborers, inspectors or managers, have a crucial responsibility to control erosion and pollutants from building materials at the job site. You can prevent pollution of stormwater and drinking water, wildlife habitat, neighborhoods and recreation areas in the urban environment.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING:

  • Sediments and other pollutants must be retained on-site; they cannot wash into streets, gutters or storm drains
  • Toxic materials must be stored properly and may not contaminate either the soil or surface waters
  • Concrete wastes must be retained on-site and disposed of properly; do not wash these into the streets, gutters, or storm drains
  • Solid wastes must be placed in covered containers/ dumpsters
  • Slopes must be stabilized

STORMWATER POLLUTION PREVENTION PLAN (SWPPP):

California State Water Resources Control Board issued a general ordinance that requires construction sites larger than 5 acres to prepare and follow a SWPPP; this ordinance may be updated to include smaller sites. For more information on preparing these plans, call the Stormwater Hotline (800) 974-9794.

PRINCIPLES IN SELECTING BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

  • Practice good housekeeping
  • Contain waste
  • Minimize disturbed areas
  • Stabilize disturbed areas
  • Protect slopes and channels
  • Control site perimeter – prevent materials and pollutants from leaving the site Control erosion on-site

Plan and Design City Facilities That Integrate Pollution Prevention

PLANNING BMPS FOR CITY FACILITIES

  1. Specify irrigation systems that will shut-off before runoff starts and won’t irrigate after a big storm.
  2. Design landscaping with low irrigation requirements.
  3. Leave a vegetative barrier to act as a filter for pollutants.
  4. Incorporate pervious drainage systems on site such as landscaped swales or unlined channels for runoff.
  5. Use porous pavements, alternative surfaces, or reducing the size of the paved surface.
  6. Design to minimize the potential for pollutants to contact rainfall or runoff. For example, eliminate outdoor storage of hazardous materials, and provide secondary containment for the storage area.
  7. Preserve natural drainage features and depressions that store rainfall on new site development.
  8. Design trash container areas to prevent off-site transport of trash and exposure to stormwater runoff.
  9. Add standard stenciling or signage to all new storm drain facilities.

SOME TREATMENT CONTROL BMPS APPROPRIATE FOR NEW PROJECTS ARE:

  1. Constructed wetlands
  2. Extended detention basins
  3. infiltration basins
  4. Infiltration trenches
  5. Vegetated swales and strips
  6. Wet ponds
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This doesn’t mean you have to clean up after others, but there is a 24-hour hotline to report pollution on public property that you believe will harm our waterways and beaches.

HELP TRAIN OTHERS

  • Help residents to understand the importance of preventing stormwater pollution.
  • Don’t ignore urban pollution. If you see a clogged catch basin, a spill or illegally discarded waste in Los Angeles City property, call the Stormwater Hotline to report it: 800-974-9794. The Department of Public Works has crews ready to respond. All you have to do is pick up the phone.
  • Train employees in your department to use these guidelines and Best Management Practices (BMPs).

FEDERAL CLEAN WATER ACT- The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act require standards for discharging stormwater into our nation’s waterways. Cities are required to have a permit for discharging into storm drains that lead into rivers, lakes, or the ocean. The permit is called a "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)" permit.

OUR NPDES PERMIT- An NPDES Permit allows clean stormwater discharges into rivers, lakes or the ocean. The current permit was issued in 1996 by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (Los Angeles Region) and requires a decrease in pollutants to stormwater and urban runoff.

Our Permit is based upon a foundation of education rather than harsh enforcement actions. The Permit requires that all City employees receive training in stormwater pollution prevention. Knowing the general principles that can significantly reduce pollution helps make compliance with stormwater permits and regulations easy. However, the City is responsible to the Regional Board for all employees’ actions and may be fined for polluting activities.

STORMWATER ORDINANCE- In 1998, the City of Los Angeles passed its stormwater ordinance. It gave the City local legal authority to enforce the NPDES Permit. While education is the key to successful stormwater pollution prevention, we still have the means to take corrective actions with serious offenders. Any commercial, industrial, or construction business found discharging waste or wastewater into the storm drain system may be subject to legal penalties.

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