Soapy water. Trash. Oil. These are examples of toxic pollutants that do not belong in our creeks, bays, and oceans. These substances are commonly found in commercial and industrial areas. After a rainfall, or after a spill, polluted runoff from outdoor pavement/surfaces may flow into storm drains. These storm drains will empty directly into local creeks and waterways, without any treatment. If not properly managed, then business-related waste and spills can harm fish, aquatic habitats, and public health.  

This is why discharge of anything other than rainwater into storm drains is prohibited in California.  

The good news? From local shops to industrial facilities, careful site maintenance can make a big difference in keeping our waters clean. There are simple, everyday activities that businesses and property owners/managers can do to keep pollution from entering storm drains. These activities are known as “Best Management Practices” (BMPs).  

In the San Francisco Bay Area, municipal staff may inspect businesses to ensure that BMPs are in place and are effective at preventing stormwater pollution. These may be routine inspections, and/or they may be enforcement-response related inspections (As required by the Stormwater Permit, Provisions C.4 and C.5 [workshop resource]). In both cases, the goal is to protect water quality. Contra Costa Clean Water Program has developed outreach materials to help different types of businesses identify the stormwater BMPs that may work best for them.

Other Useful Resources:

What is Stormwater? – Learn more about how your community connects to local creeks, rivers, and the San Francisco Bay.  Includes videos so you can know the difference between storm drain systems and sanitary sewer systems.

Green Business Program ( – The Green Business Program (GBP) is a successful partnership of environmental agencies and utilities which assist, recognize, and promote businesses and government agencies that volunteer to operate in a more environmentally responsible way. The GBP is designed to publicly recognize private businesses and public agencies that take extra steps, beyond baseline compliance with environmental regulations, to prevent pollution and save resources (e.g., conserve water and energy, reduce waste through reuse and recycling, prevent stormwater pollution through good housekeeping practices). This program encourages and helps business managers and inspectors strengthen and sustain the quality of the environment in the County through a collaborative partnership. Green Businesses can reduce waste and utility costs, improve systems and equipment performance, attract environmentally conscious customers, demonstrate community good will, establish good relationships with regulators, provide a safer workplace, and motivate and recognize employees’ environmental efforts.

Since its inception in 1998, approximately 650 businesses have been certified as Green Businesses in the County. The types of businesses being certified are diverse and include business offices, solar electric companies, auto repair shops, landscapers, printers, restaurants, small manufacturers, home remodelers and cleaning services, and wastewater treatment facilities.

Report Illegal Dumping and Spills – Reporting illegal dumping and discharges helps keep our local waterways pristine for all of us to enjoy.  Call 1-800-NO DUMPING (1-800-663-8674) or report online here.   

Unsheltered Homelessness ( – External programs provide valuable services and resources for people experiencing homelessness throughout Contra Costa County.  The County’s Health, Housing and Homeless Services’ (H3) Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement program (CORE) teams work to locate, engage, stabilize and house chronically unsheltered individuals and families.  If you know of an unsheltered individual or family who may need assistance, call 211 to connect with a CORE team.  

If you are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Contra Costa:
Call 211, Text “HOPE” to 20121, or Visit for resources, information, and free, confidential services available 24/7.  
Please note that 211 is not designed for crisis response. For medical or other emergencies, please call 911.