Keeping stormwater drains, rivers, lakes, and oceans free of hazardous waste


One of San Diego region’s most valuable natural resource is water and keeping our waterways clean is a concern of most residents. Surveys conducted across San Diego County show that more than 50% of residents believe that pollution of our beaches, lakes, and creeks directly affects them and their families. One way our waterways can be negatively impacted is from hazardous waste and other pollutants entering our stormwater system.

The County of San Diego maintains a complex storm drainage system used to carry water away from homes and businesses. Water released to the streets, gutters, and storm drains in San Diego County is not filtered or treated before it reaches our local creeks, rivers, and the ocean. All sources of pollution, including trash and green waste, solvent and degreasers, vehicle fluids, and other hazardous waste, can degrade water quality. Because of this, hazardous waste and other types of pollution are prohibited from leaving County resident’s property and entering the streets or storm drains. Only rainwater is allowed in the streets and storm drains.

More detailed information on how various types of pollutants impact water quality can be found here.

What is hazardous waste?

Household hazardous waste is the unused or leftover portion of any hazardous chemicals or materials. Any leftover household product that is labeled with DANGER, WARNING, TOXIC, CAUTION, POISON, FLAMMABLE, CORROSIVE, or REACTIVE is considered a household hazardous waste.

Examples of common household hazardous waste materials include aerosol cans, automotive fluids, household cleaners, paint and stains, pesticides, pool chemicals, propane and more. These materials should never be thrown into the trash or poured down the sink, sewer or storm drains. Improper disposal may injure refuse workers, pollute ground water, and waterways.

The County of San Diego provides information specific to the disposal of other types of waste, including universal waste (i.e., common batteries, computer and television monitors, fluorescent light bulbs, mercury thermometers), pharmaceutical waste (i.e., unwanted medication), leftover paint, and home sharps (i.e., needles, syringes and lancets). In addition, small business disposal options are available. The next household hazardous waste collection event will be held in Borrego Springs in March 2020.

How can you help prevent stormwater pollution?

  • Good housekeeping practices like sweeping up litter, picking up pet waste, recycling, and composting.
  • Implementing practices to control or prevent runoff, spills or leaks from your property.
  • Adjust your sprinklers to ensure they water your landscape and not the pavement.
  • Properly dispose of wastes and leftover materials at County-approved disposal locations.

Interested in learning more?