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      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation

How So?

Water running off your yard, sidewalk or street flows down gutters to curbside openings called catch basins.

From there, this urban runoff flows into the storm drain system, a vast underground network of pipes and tunnels. In the Los Angeles area, this network encompasses a total of over 1,500 miles. Anything carried by this runoff—pesticides, oil and anti-freeze from leaky cars, pet waste, foam containers and plastic bags—is not only unhealthful to our neighborhoods, but ends up trashing the beaches, polluting the ocean, and harming marine life … and us! On a yearly average, over 40 tons of trash and debris washes up on our beaches.

Even during the driest day in Southern California, we produce tens of millions of gallons of runoff, the result of activities such as car washing, over watering of lawns and yard cleanup.
For our own protection, and for a cleaner ocean, we need to keep trash off the streets, out of catch basins, and runoff water free from pollutants.

So What Can You Do?

Properly use and store all hazardous household products, including cleaners, solvents and paints.
Be an environmentally aware consumer. Buy non-toxic products for use in your home and garden whenever possible.
Use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers carefully and sparingly.
Conserve water and reduce the amount of runoff by not over-watering your lawn and garden.
Use a broom rather than a hose to clean up garden clippings, dirt and litter from sidewalks, patios and driveways.
Compost yard trimmings and leaves. Do not sweep them into the streets or catch basins.
Divert rain spouts and other sources of runoff onto grass or vegetation.
Dispose of pet waste in trash cans. Leaving it on the lawn sends harmful bacteria into the storm drains whenever you water or when it rains.
Donate unwanted paint, fertilizer, etc. to friends or community organizations.
When changing car fluids, use a drip pan to collect any spills. If a spill occurs, soak it up using an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sawdust and dispose of it properly.
Wash your car with biodegradable soap using as little water as possible. Shut off the hose while washing your car and then rinse.
Keep a trash bag in the car and use it! Do not throw anything out the window.
Keep up car maintenance to reduce leakage of oil, anti-freeze and other fluids.
Buy batteries, anti-freeze and motor oil from stores that will recycle used products, or
Take these items to a local Household Hazardous Waste roundup.
storm drain tunnel

Click here for actual photo

Related Links

Biodegradation Timeline

Impact to Marine Life

Call (800) 974-9794 to receive the free pamphlet, The Ocean Begins in Your Neighborhood, or
download a PDF version here.
Illegal dumping is not only an eye sore for neighborhoods, but it also creates unhealthful conditions that causes odors and can spread disease.