Illegal Discharges


These are discharges from residential, commercial, and industrial activities that are considered illegal:

  • Discharges of wash water from the cleaning or hosing of impervious (cement) surfaces in residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal areas including parking lots, streets, sidewalks, driveways, patios, plazas, work yard,s and outdoor eating or drinking areas. Wash water will often be bubbly and/or have a rainbow sheen on the surface that does not smell like gasoline. Natural bubbles in water will break apart easily when poked with an object.
  • Discharges that result from the cleaning, repair, or maintenance of any type of equipment, machinery, or facility including motor vehicles, cement-related equipment, and porta-potty servicing. Oil based pollutants will have an oily rainbow sheen that smells like petroleum. Cement slurry will look white and milky in water and fecal matter is determined by sight or smell.
  • Discharges of wash water from the hosing or cleaning of gas stations, auto repair garages, or other types of automotive service facilities. Automotive service facilities should be plumbed so that their discharge drains to the sewer. From these facilities, wash water flowing to the gutter is illegal. Sewage discharge is determined by sight and smell.
  • Discharges of wash water from mobile operations such as mobile automobile washing, steam cleaning, power washing, and carpet cleaning. Mobile washing operations should be containing their wash water and discharging it to the sewer under permit. It should not be running off into a catch basin.
  • Discharges of runoff from material storage areas containing chemicals, fuels, grease, oil, or other hazardous material. Storage areas for hazardous materials should have secondary containment that drains to the sewer in case of a spill. It should never drain to the gutter.
  • Discharges of pool or fountain water containing chlorine, biocides, or other chemicals or discharges of pool or fountain backwash water. Chemically treated pool or fountain water should be decontaminated prior to discharging or discharge to the sewer under permit. It will often be accompanied by a foul chemical odor.
  • Discharges of sediment, pet waste, vegetation clippings, or other landscape or construction related wastes. Sediment discharges will look like dirt-laden water.
  • Discharges of food related wastes (e.g. grease, fish processing, and restaurant kitchen mat and trash bin wash water). Food waste will deplete oxygen and add bacteria to a water body. It will often smell like decomposing organic matter.
  • Discharges of oil and other auto fluids and household chemicals. Oil and auto fluids will have an oily sheen and petroleum odor while household chemicals will come in a myriad of forms. Household products should be disposed of at a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.

These activities may occur if the activity is conducted in a manner that results in no runoff or pollutants entering the drainage system (i.e. using Best Management Practices). For example, residents may wash down their driveway and sidewalks if they complete the activity in a manner which captures or diverts the water they use, so that it does not drain into the streets and storm drains. This may be accomplished by using best management practices such as sweeping the driveway and sidewalk of all debris and putting it in the trash. Then, while using a hose nozzle, lightly spraying the driveway and sidewalk away from the gutter onto the lawn or into a planter area. Or, just sweep the driveway and sidewalk, no water necessary.

Reporting Spills

To report environmental concerns in Brea, call 714-990-7911 or submit an email.