Stormwater Quality Program

​FAQ: Illegal Dumping

What is the County of Sacramento doing about illegal dumping? 

The County's Stormwater Ordinance makes it an environmental crime to knowingly dump or discharge hazardous materials into the storm drain system and the County can impose fines on violators when they are caught. 

I see people dumping their used oil into storm drains all the time. What can I do? 

Dumping used oil into the storm drain system is illegal. One gallon of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. To report the problem, call (916) 875-RAIN. Otherwise, all county residents and businesses can take their used, uncontaminated motor oil to the North Area Recovery Station Household Hazardous Waste Facility located on 4550 Roseville Road, North Highlands. For more information or to make an appointment, call (916) 875-5555. 

What happens if I see a neighbor, or know someone who's throwing trash into a storm drain? 

Storm drains are designed for catching rain water only. Dumping trash or other pollutants down storm drain inlets is illegal and is a violation of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 as well as the County of Sacramento's Stormwater Ordinance. If a neighbor is disposing of trash in the storm drain, they may not understand that drain inlets directly connect to our creeks and rivers. If you have an amicable relationship with your neighbor, it may be just a matter of informing and making them aware of its environmental impact. If it is someone who you feel is knowingly violating and repeatedly dumping into storm drains, please call the County of Sacramento, Department of Water Resources, Stormwater Quality Program at (916) 875-RAIN; or the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities at (916) 808-1400. 

​What is the fine/penalty for illegal dumping? 

Fines and penalties are based on type and amount of illegally discharged material. Each violation can be based on, but not limited to, a cost recovery fine and/or enforcement fine. 

I have some paint, paint thinner, chemicals, batteries at home that I need to dispose of. How do I do it? 

Paints, paint thinner, cleaning chemicals, automotive fluids and batteries are all examples of household hazardous waste that need proper disposal. Please visit the Sacramento County Department of Waste Management and Recycling website or call (916) 875-5555 for more information on the Sacramento County Household Hazardous Waste program. 

How can I be environmentally responsible when washing my car? 

The best place to wash your car is at a full or self service car wash, since these facilities treat and discharge their wastewater to the sanitary sewer system, and many use recycled water. If you wash your vehicle at home, wash it over a lawn or gravel area, if feasible. Use biodegradable soaps, and use as little water as possible. Shut off water while washing your car, or use a trigger nozzle to stop the flow. Remember not to leave your car on the lawn. 

Yard clippings leaves are natural, so they don't cause any problems, right? 

Grass, leaves and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding and the potential for becoming a breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, when grass and leav​es decompose they encourage excessive growth of algae which can deprive fish of adequate oxygen. ​