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Pollution Prevention

Stormwater can be polluted by a variety of common urban pollutants. All of these pollutants degrade the water quality and aquatic life in the San Francisco Bay and surrounding creeks. Here are 10 impactful ways that you can prevent pollution in your home and community. To stay updated on stormwater projects in San Mateo County, subscribe to the Flows to Bay quarterly newsletter.

Adopt a Drain1. Adopt a Drain

Adopting a storm drain means pledging to keep the drain clean by removing leaves and trash on top. Volunteers can help reduce localized flooding, prevent trash from entering the Bay, receive free supplies, and name their adopted drain.




Trash2. Don't Litter

Trash makes up much of the inorganic debris that gets washed into storm drains. Common items that end up in our waterways include cigarette butts, plastic straws, and food wrappers. Help beautify your community by picking up trash in your neighborhood.




Pet Waste3. Scoop the Poop

Did you know that one gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal bacteria? The largest source of animal waste in stormwater is from pet owners who do not clean up after their pets. Remember to always carry pet waste bags when taking your dog for a walk and to throw pet waste in the garbage, not compost.




Car Wash4. Wash Your Car at a Commercial Car Wash Facility 

Washing your car on the street can be one of the most environmentally-unfriendly chores. That’s because pollutants such as oil, metals, dirt, and soap can flow into a storm drain which leads into the Bay and pollutes our environment. The best environmentally-friendly option is to wash your car at a commercial car wash since they collect and recycle the wash water.



Bayfront Cleanup5. Participate in Bayfront Cleanup Day in September

Every September, we host a large cleanup along our bayfront. In 2020, the bayfront cleanup turned into a neighborhood cleanup in order to reduce large gatherings and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  




Our Water Our World6. Use Less Toxic Cleaning Products

Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides contain several harmful ingredients that can kill not only weeds, but also aquatic wildlife if it comes in contact with stormwater. The next time you’re at the hardware store, look for less toxic pest control and gardening products certified by our program partner Our Water Our World.




Rain Barrel7. Install a Rain Barrel

Don’t let good water go to waste! By installing a rain barrel you can capture rainwater and use it to water your plants. San Mateo County residents can now save up to $200 per rain barrel by claiming a rebate here. Already have a rain barrel? Consider putting yourself on our map to show support for the rain barrel movement.



Rain Garden8. Build a Rain Garden in Your Yard

Rain gardens help capture runoff and allows stormwater to soak into the ground, while removing pollutants and replenishing the groundwater supply. 

Need help with installing a rain garden?  Find a Bay-Friendly Qualified Professional to design, construct, or maintain your landscape.



Household hazardous waste9. Dispose of Household Chemicals Safely

Household hazardous waste (such as aerosol cans, batteries, paint, or motor oil) can be recycled at the HHW Collection Facility in San Mateo by making an appointment for drop off. It is illegal and unsafe to dump this waste in the trash or down the drain




Bike more, drive less10. Drive Less, Bike/Walk/Transit More

Motor vehicles can emit dangerous pollutants such as hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxides onto our streets. These pollutants can get washed into local creeks and the bay during the rainy season. Switch up your commute by biking, walking, or taking public transportation to work or school and get rewarded for doing so!



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