Water from tubs, toilets, and taps inside homes travels through pipes to the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility where it is treated and then discharged into South San Francisco Bay.
Make your home healthier and prevent indoor water pollution by following these tips:
- Household Cleaners
- Disposable Wipes
- Antibacterial soaps
- Household Hazardous Waste
- Pet Flea Treatment
- Fats, Oils, and Grease
Water that enters San José's storm drain system flows untreated into the nearest creek or river and ultimately to the Bay. Stormwater runoff – rain or irrigation water flowing over sidewalks, driveways, and landscaping – can carry pollutants into storm drains.
Keep outdoor pollutants from entering storm drains by following these tips:
- Tip: Make your own cleaning products from common household items such that are effective, economical, and less toxic. Find recipes and tips at Baywise.
- The Issue: Cleaning products can contain harsh chemicals, which when washed down the drain, can mix with other chemicals and negatively impact the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility's treatment process and the Bay.
- Tip: Throw disposable wipes (even those labeled as disposable) in the trash instead of flushing them.
- The Issue: Disposable wipes can clog your sewer line or the public sewer system, leading to sewage overflows that can endanger public health, the environment, and your property.
- Tip: Instead of using antibacterial soap, use plain soap and warm water, with vigorous scrubbing for 15-20 seconds, to fight germs on hands.
- The Issue: Triclosan is a common chemical in antibacterial soaps and other products. A registered pesticide and endocrine disrupter, it can be toxic to fish in the Bay.
Household Hazardous Waste
- Make a free drop-off appointment through the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program to get rid of paint, batteries, needles, pesticides, propane tanks, mercury thermometers and thermostats, and other corrosive, flammable, and toxic materials.
- Find a drop-off location for electronic waste (e-waste).
- The Issue: Household hazardous wastes can accumulate in your garage or shed and endanger your family and the environment. Never pour leftover materials down the sink, toilet, or storm drain.
Pet Flea Treatment
- Tip: Talk to your vet about using oral medications to control fleas and ticks
- The Issue: When you apply a “spot-on” flea and tick product to your pet, it doesn’t just stay there!
- Spot-on treatments are applied by pouring liquid onto the back of your pet, between the shoulders. Even though they may seem dry after a few minutes, these products can easily spread around your home and even wind up in our waterways.
- Spot-on treatments and other products to control fleas and ticks, such as collars, sprays and foggers, contain toxic pesticides. These toxins can also end up in our local waterways when you wash your pet, its bedding, or clothing, carpets and upholstery that come into contact with your pet.
- Fipronil and imidacloprid are chemicals commonly found in flea and tick treatments. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is currently reviewing the use of these chemicals over potential human health risks. These chemicals cannot be completely removed at wastewater treatment facilities such as the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. This means that these chemicals are discharged into our creeks, rivers and San Francisco Bay. These pesticides can accumulate at concentrations that are toxic to sensitive aquatic species.
- You can help, and keep your family and the Bay safe, by talking to your vet about using oral medications to control fleas and ticks. For more information, visit https://baywise.org/residential/pets/.
- Tip: Instead of flushing unwanted medicines or putting them in the garbage, take them to a drop-off bin.
- The Issue: Flushed medicine flows through the sanitary sewer system to the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility, which was not designed to remove all pharmaceutical compounds. Small amounts may pass through and be released into the Bay, impacting wildlife.
Fats, Oils, and Grease
- Tip: After cooking, let fats, oil, and grease cool down and solidify, then transfer to a container, such as a soup can. Cover the can and throw it directly into the trash (up to one quart). To get rid of more than one quart of fats, oil, and grease, make a free drop-off appointment through the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program.
- The Issue: Oil and grease that is washed down the drain can build up in sanitary sewer lines and cause blockages, leading to sewage overflows that can endanger public health, the environment, and your property. In addition, clearing grease blockages in your home can be very costly.
- If you have a sanitary sewer overflow, please call the Department of Transportation at (408) 794-1900 at any time.
- Carry disposable bags when you walk your pet. Pick up and throw pet waste in a garbage can.
- Pick up pet waste daily from your yard and throw it in the garbage or toilet.
- Keep pet waste out of compost piles and garden soil.
- The Issue: Pet waste left on sidewalks, streets, yards or other open areas can be washed away by rain or irrigation water into storm drains. Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause disease as well as nutrients that encourage algae growth in waterways.
- The Issue: Draining pools, spas, and fountains to storm drains can pollute creeks with copper, chlorine, sediments, and other contaminants.
Garden and Yard Chemicals
- Use integrated pest management (IPM) methods to reduce the need for pesticides.
- Create healthy soil by following these tips, reducing the need for fertilizers.
- More information on pesticide disposal, IPM, and sustainable gardening tips
- The Issue: Pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals can wash off during rain or irrigation into storm drains that flow directly into creeks, rivers, and the Bay, affecting the health of humans and wildlife.
- The Issue: Leaks and drips wash off streets and highways into storm drains that flow into creeks, rivers and, ultimately, the Bay.
- Always throw trash in the proper can.
- If you see litter in the street in front of your home or business, pick it up and throw it away before it is swept into the storm drain system and into the closest creek.
- Volunteer to pick up litter in your community.
- The Issue: Litter can collect in urban creeks, like Coyote Creek, impacting water quality, hampering recreational use, and potentially hindering flood control protection.