Power Washing

Stormwater Information for the Power Washing Industry

Preventing runoff from power washing activities from entering our streets and storm drains helps protect our waterways from pollution! All sources of pollution, including runoff from power washing activities, are prohibited from leaving your property and entering streets or storm drains. Only rainwater is allowed in the streets and storm drains. 

Did you know…

  • Power washing of hard surfaces generates contaminated waste water that often includes soap, debris, oil and chemicals. These pollutants can be easily washed off work sites and flow untreated into our waterways where they degrade our water quality and harm aquatic life. 

  • Even if you are power washing with water only (no detergents), the runoff is still dangerous and is not permitted to enter the storm drain.

  • Releasing pollutants directly or indirectly into the storm drain system or waterways is a violation of the County’s Watershed Protection Ordinance (WPO)


What can I do?

  • Dispose of waste thoughtfully: the waste water from power washing needs to be contained, collected and disposed of safely. Common equipment used for containing and collecting wastewater generated during pressure washing activities include wet-vacs, berms, portable containment areas and weighted storm drain covers. Collected water can then be disposed of in the sanitary sewer.

  • Use Best Management Practices (BMPs): BMPs are techniques or controls used to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants, such as detergents and oil, into the storm drain system. BMPs for a power washing business could include surface pre-cleaning (especially if there is a spill of any kind) or placing berms around storm water drains as a protective barrier.


Want to learn more?

The resources below provide suggested BMPs and further information on how to protect our waterways. Click the buttons to view available languages:  

General Pollution
Materials Management Spill Response
Train Your Employees
Loading and Dumpster Areas
Inspect Your Business


Know before you go…

Identify the location of and protect all storm drains in the vicinity of your power washing activity.


Contact Us

If you would like to report a power washing discharge concern, have questions about our program, or would like additional information call the County Storm Drain Pollution hotline at: 1(888) 846-0800 or e-mail us at watersheds@sdcounty.ca.gov 


Thank you for doing your part to protect our waterways!