Frequently Asked Questions
Clean LA



What is stormwater pollution?
Storm drains are intended to take rainwater straight to the ocean to avoid area flooding. Rainwater or even runoff from sprinklers or hoses carries contaminants such as litter, animal waste, automobile fluids, fertilizers and pesticides into the storm drains and pollutes the County's neighborhoods and waters, creating health risks for children, killing marine life and contributing to localized flooding and beach closures.

Where does the pollution come from?
We all contribute to stormwater pollution every day. Dropping cigarette butts on the ground, allowing paper or trash to blow into the street, and hosing leaves or dirt into the street are just a few examples of things you might be doing that contribute to stormwater pollution. Waters that flow over streets, parking lots, construction sites and industrial facilities carry these pollutants through a 5,000-mile storm drain network directly to the rivers and beaches of Southern California. Click here to find out what you can do right now to help prevent stormwater pollution.

Isn't stormwater treated before going into the ocean, like sewer water?
No! The storm drain system is separate from the sewage system. Storm drains are intended to take rainwater straight to the ocean to avoid area flooding. Storm drain water is not treated before flowing directly into rivers and the ocean, making it everyones responsibility to make sure storm drains and waterways are free of pollutants.

How does stormwater pollution affect my community?
Stormwater pollution can also have serious impacts on your neighborhood. Litter and animal waste in the streets and storm drains makes any neighborhood look bad and can contribute to flooded streets during the rainy season.

We also see the impacts of pollution in increased health risks to swimmers near storm drains, high concentrations of toxic metals in harbor and ocean sediments, and toxicity to aquatic life. These impacts translate into losses to the County's $2 billion a year tourism economy, loss of recreational resources, dramatic cost increases for cleaning up contaminated sediments and impaired function and vitality of our natural resources. Clogged storm drains can lead to area flooding when it rains, creating traffic problems and unsanitary conditions. Pollutants in the community such as pet waste, litter and hazardous contaminants significantly degrade the appearance of the neighborhood and can lower property values.

What can I do to prevent stormwater pollution?
Everyone can help keep the County of Los Angeles clean. Here are a few tips that can help protect our environment.

  • Don't put anything in storm drains but rainwater. Storm drains and flood control channels carry surface runoff directly to the rivers and ocean without treatment. Make sure that runoff carries only rainwater.
  • Avoid throwing litter into the street. Trash-laden gutters increase neighborhood pollution and clog storm drains causing street flooding and more traffic congestion.
  • Pick up after your pet. Animal waste, when left on the ground, washes down storm drains and contaminates beaches. Picking up dog waste is a County ordinance and dog owners disregarding this law may be fined.
  • Recycle your motor oil. There are more than 650 gas stations, auto parts stores and repair shops that will collect and recycle used motor oil. Click here to find the one nearest you.
  • Bag, compost or recycle grass, tree limbs, leaves and other yard waste. Soggy yard waste is a major contributor to clogged storm drains and street and neighborhood flooding.
  • Use yard waste as mulch, as natural fertilizer, or as ground cover. Nearly 20 percent of the waste buried in landfills is from our yards like grass and tree trimmings.
  • Encourage local businesses to start a recycling program if they don't already have one. Today's consumers take their business to companies that have an environmental conscience.
  • Use double-sided photocopies. You can cut down on paper costs and reduce waste by making double-sided originals and copies whenever possible.
  • Don't use harsh, abrasive or toxic chemicals around the house. Select water-based products over solvent-based products when available (e.g.. paint, glue, shoe polish). Also, avoid aerosol sprays choose a pump spray or other alternatives.
  • Clean up your yard. Have a bunch of old tires in your yard and don't know what to do with them? Click here to find the nearest tire recycling location and/or the date of the next tire waste amnesty event.
  • Make sure you grasscycle. You can save water, fertilizer and your back by GRASSCYCLING. Click here for more information.
  • Report illegal dumping. To report illegal dumping anytime, day or night, call 1 (888) CLEAN LA or fill out on online form (Note: words should link to form)
  • Keep sanitation workers safe. When thrown in with the regular trash, household hazardous waste can injure sanitation workers. In addition, landfills are not intended or permitted for those types of wastes, which could impact groundwater. Click here to find out how to properly dispose of these materials.
  • Don't flush, even if in a rush. When flushed down a toilet, sink or drain, household hazardous waste goes through the sewage system to treatment plants not equipped to handle hazardous waste. Click here to find out how to properly dispose of these materials.
  • Buy just what you need to do the job. Give leftover materials to a friend, neighbor, business or charity that can use them up.
  • Be smart when you apply pesticides or fertilizers. Do not apply pesticides or fertilizers before it rains. Not only will you lose most of the chemicals through runoff, but you will also be harming the environment. Do not over-water after application. Read the label and do not apply more than recommended.
  • Purchase re-refined motor oil for your vehicle. Re-refined oil has been recycled and then reprocessed so it is as good or better than virgin oil. By using re-refined motor oil, you are closing the recycling loop and saving natural resources. Click here to find re-refined oil wholesalers.
  • Don' do time. The illegal dumping of hazardous waste carries a minimum fine of $1,000 per day per violation up to $100,000 per day per violation and imprisonment.

What information does the 1(888) CLEAN LA hotline offer?
The 1(888) CLEAN LA hotline allows residents to report illegal dumping and clogged catch basins, as well as receive information regarding stormwater pollution prevention, certified used oil recycling centers, SmartGardening workshops and Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste Roundup events. Additionally, callers can receive information about the stormwater pollution prevention program community clean-up events, pilot programs and advertising public service announcements.