Rain and water runoff from automotive shops and businesses can carry pollutant material into storm drains. Examples of pollutants include oil and grease from cars, copper and asbestos from worn brake linings, zinc from tires and toxics from spilled fluids. What can you do to prevent stormwater pollution?

  • Operate a clean, dry shop

  • Sweep shop floor frequently; do not hose down

  • Clean up spills promptly using absorbent materials

  • Never sweep or flush wastes into sanitary sewer or storm drain

  • Prevent spills and leaks

  • Drain fluids from leaking vehicles as soon as possible

  • Use drip pans

  • Store bulk or waste fluids in secondary containment

  • Practice waste reduction and recycling

  • Store parts and equipment inside or in enclosed areas

  • If work or materials storage must be done outdoors, cover or berm work areas

  • Wash or rinse parts indoors in designated, contained areas

  • Never dispose of automotive fluids in the sanitary sewer or storm drain

  • Train employees to practice pollution prevention; post best management practice guidelines around the shop

Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it can pick up pollutants like sediment, debris, and chemicals and transport these to a nearby storm sewer system or directly to a river, lake, or coastal water. Polluted stormwater runoff can harm or kill fish and other wildlife. Sedimentation can destroy aquatic habitat, and high volumes of runoff can cause stream bank erosion. Debris can clog waterways and potentially reach the ocean where it can kill marine wildlife and impact habitat.

  • Erosion Control — Erosion controls must be maintained or else a large volume of sediment and debris may be carried into the stormwater system. Construction vehicles can leak fuel, oil, and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater and deposited into local waterbodies.

  • Divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.

  • Install silt fences, vehicle mud removal areas, vegetative cover, and other sediment and erosion controls and properly maintain them, especially after rainstorms.

  • Prevent soil erosion by minimizing disturbed areas during construction projects, and seed and mulch bare areas as soon as possible.

  • The NPDES stormwater program requires construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb 1 acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under an NPDES permit for their stormwater discharges.

Lack of vegetation on streambanks can lead to erosion. Overgrazed pastures can also contribute excessive amounts of sediment to local waterbodies. Excess fertilizers and pesticides can poison aquatic animals and lead to destructive algae blooms. Livestock in streams can contaminate waterways with bacteria, making them unsafe for human contact.

  • Keep livestock away from streambanks and provide them a water source away from waterbodies.

  • Store and apply manure away from waterbodies and in accordance with a nutrient management plan.

  • Vegetate riparian areas along waterways.

  • Rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion in fields.

  • Apply fertilizers and pesticides according to label instructions to save money and minimize pollution.

Rainwater is clean when it falls from the sky, but it often picks up fertilizers and pesticides when it washes over our yards. Here are some tips to help keep our rivers and streams clean:

  • Never dump yard waste in creeks or storm drains.

  • Blow grass clippings back into yards and off of streets and sidewalks.

  • Bag yard waste when possible to avoid having it enter the storm drainage system.

  • Keep storm drains clear of yard debris.

  • Re-plant bare areas to avoid soil erosion.

  • Adjust sprinklers so that irrigation water does not land on streets, sidewalks or driveways.

  • Consider natural alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers.

  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers applied by performing a soil test first.

  • Do not use pesticides or fertilizers near creek, rivers or ponds.

  • Avoid applying fertilizers before a large rain storm.

  • Use native plants for landscaping. They are adapted to local conditions and therefore can require less maintenance.

  • Never use the gutter or storm drain system for disposal of household waste. Liquid residue from paints, thinners, solvents, glues and cleaning fluids are hazardous wastes.

  • When thoroughly dry, empty water base paint cans, spent brushes, rags and drop cloths may be disposed of in trash.

  • Rinse containers and use rinse water as product. Dispose of rinsed containers in trash.

  • Properly use and store all toxic products including cleaners, solvents and paints.

  • Use kitty litter or other absorbent material to clean up spills from paved surfaces.


  • Depending on the substance, dispose of absorbents in trash or at the household hazardous waste facility.

  • Select water based or latex paints whenever possible.

  • Sweep up dust and paint chips from sanding or stripping. Dispose of in trash UNLESS the activity involved marine paints or paints containing leads. These should be disposed of as hazardous waste.

  • When high-pressure water stripping or cleaning building exteriors, block storm drains.

  • Wash water onto dirt area and spade in soil IF no chemicals were used.

  • For water based paint, paint out brushes to the extent possible and rinse in sink.

  • For oil based paint, paint out the brushes to the extent possible, filter and reuse thinners and solvents. Disposed of excess liquids and residue as hazardous waste.

Never dump grease down a storm drain!

Grease can collect in the sewer lines and create blockages that cause sewage spills into the storm drain system. Restaurants should:

  • Have a grease trap or interceptor installed.

  • Inspect grease traps and interceptors regularly for leaks and replace if necessary.

  • Regularly clean grease traps and regularly have grease interceptors pumped by a grease hauler.

  • Contract with a grease hauler to regularly service and empty your tallow bin.

  • Prevent grease from dripping or overflowing when transferring and emptying grease containers.

  • Container lids should fit securely to prevent access from vandals and animals.

  • For more information on the collection of cooking oil visit the City of Tallahassee's Biofuel Collection Sites page.

Seal and Maintain Trash and Recycling Containers

Restaurant waste (trash, food, packaging, etc.) should be placed in sealed bags prior to disposing in restaurant dumpsters. Restaurants should also:

  • Keep lids on trash, recycling cans, and other outdoor containers.

  • Inspect all outdoor trash and recycling containers before it rains to make sure the lids are closed.

  • Regularly inspect dumpsters for leaks and for trash piling up around the dumpsters.

  • Minimize the amount of liquids disposed of in your dumpsters.

Control Outdoor Washing Activities

Wash all equipment indoors to ensure the wastewater is collected via floor drains or sinks. Wastewater from other outdoor activities MUST BE CONTAINED, recaptured, and disposed of into the sanitary sewer system. Examples of this include high pressure washing of storage or loading/unloading areas, and hose down of parking lots or sidewalks.

Sweep Sidewalks and Parking Lots

Restaurant parking lots and sidewalks should be swept regularly. Don’t wash down these areas with a hose or pressure washer unless the wash water is collected and discharged into the sanitary sewer.

Prevent Spills

It is always best to prevent spills, but be prepared when they occur:

  • Keep spill containment kits on hand in case of a spill.

  • Store kits in convenient locations, such as near dumpsters and unloading areas.

  • Clean up spills using rags or absorbents and dispose in the trash. Do not hose spills into the storm drain.

  • Teach employees the proper use of spill clean-up materials.

  • Report spills that discharge to a storm drain to your local stormwater hotline.

Oversee all Cleaning Service Contractors

  • Make sure that any contractors you hire to clean mats, hood vents, etc., don’t wash down materials and equipment outside unless all their wash water is collected and discharged to the sanitary sewer.

  • Prohibit contractors from pouring anything down the storm drain.

  • Require cleaning of floor mats, exhaust filters, garbage cans, carts, or tray racks in an area which drains to a grease trap/interceptor, and finally to the sanitary sewer.

  • Wash water that contains soap, bleach, or disinfectants in it should be discharged to a mop sink or to the sanitary sewer.