Anything we use in our home or cars, like paint, pesticide, fertilizers, cleaners and motor oil can wind up in the street and contribute to stormwater pollution. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to prevent pollution.

For more information on stormwater pollution prevention (brochures):

The Ocean Begins at Your Front Door
Do You Know Where Runoff Goes in Orange County?

Home Improvement
Lawncare and Gardening
Automotive Maintenance
Pet Waste & Tips
Pesticide Management


Paints, solvents, adhesives, debris and toxic materials from home repair and remodeling are often swept, blown or washed into the Orange County storm drain system and go untreated into channels, creeks, bays and oceans. By following a few simple steps, you can prevent pollution.


  • Use water-based paints whenever possible. Look for products labeled "latex" or "cleans with water."
  • Avoid cleaning brushes or rinsing containers in the street or gutter. For water-based paint, rinse them in the sink. For oil-based paint, clean them with thinner, which can be filtered and reused.
  • Never dump paint or paint-related products in the trash, gutter or a storm drain. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site to be recycled.
  • Paint stripping residue, chips and dust from marine paints and paints containing lead or tributyl tin are hazardous wastes. Sweep them up and take them in a sealed container to a household hazardous waste collection site

Construction and remodeling:

  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather.
  • Practice source reduction. Order only the amount of material needed to complete the project.
  • Use recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible.
  • Keep all construction debris away from the street, gutter and storm drains.
  • Prevent erosion and sediment runoff by covering excavated material and piles of asphalt, sand and similar materials with plastic tarp.
  • Never dispose of cement washout or concrete dust into driveways, streets, gutters or storm drains.
  • Recycle broken asphalt, concrete, wood and cleared vegetation. Non-recyclables should be disposed of as a hazardous waste.

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Keeping lawns and gardens looking good isn't always good for our environment. Sprinkler runoff carries pesticides and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Leaves, grass clippings and yard waste get swept or blown into the street, clogging catch basins and polluting waterways. Following a few green tips is all it takes to prevent pollution.

Pesticides and fertilizers:

  • Before using, read product labels and follow the directions.
  • Use non-toxic alternatives to traditional pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Never apply pesticides or fertilizers before rain or near storm drains, channels, creeks or other water bodies.
  • Do not over apply pesticides and fertilizers. Spot apply, rather than blanketing an entire area.
  • Store pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in a covered area to prevent runoff.
  • Take unwanted pesticides and fertilizers to a household hazardous waste collection site to be recycled.

Wise water use:

  • Control the amount of water and direction of sprinklers, to avoid waste and runoff. The average lawn requires an inch of water each week, including rainfall, or 10-20 minutes of watering. A half-inch per week is enough for fall and spring.
  • Water your lawn early in the morning so water has time to soak into the soil before the heat of the sun causes evaporation.
  • Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses and micro spray systems, to better control the amount of water you use.
  • Periodically inspect and fix leaks and misdirected sprinklers.

Yard waste:

  • Recycle leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste, instead of blowing, sweeping or hosing them into the street or gutter.
  • Try grasscycling, letting grass clippings drop on your lawn, instead of using a grass catcher. The clippings act as a natural fertilizer, returning nutrients and organic matter back to the soil, and because grass is mostly water, it also irrigates your lawn, conserving water. Reducing the need to water as often or use toxic fertilizers means less contaminated runoff from your lawn.
  • To learn more about pest control, click here.


Taking care of our cars takes a toll on our environment. Motor oil, filters, anti-freeze, and other toxic fluids from our cars leak, spill or are dumped into the street, flowing untreated through the storm drain system to our channels, creeks, bays and oceans. Following few environmentally-friendly tips is all it takes to prevent pollution.

Changing your oil and oil filter:

  • Have your oil changed by a professional. If you do it yourself, recycle your used oil and oil filter at a certified collection center or household hazardous waste site.
  • Buy recycled motor oil for your car.
  • Clean up leaks and spills with an absorbent materials such as kitty litter.

Draining your radiator:

  • Antifreeze, made from the chemical ethylene glycol, is extremely toxic. Drain your radiator into a drip pan to avoid spills, and take the old antifreeze in a sealed container to a household hazardous waste collection site.
  • Try a less toxic alternative. Antifreeze made from propylene glycol, manufacturers claim, has a lower freezing point, a higher boiling point and lasts longer.

Washing your car:

  • Wash your vehicle at a washing facility that reclaims wash water, preventing oil, grease and toxic fluids from washing into the street and the storm drain system.
  • Use only soaps, cleaners and detergents labeled phosphate free or biodegradable. The safest products for the environment are vegetable based or citrus based soaps.
  • Select a site where the wash water can soak into grass, gravel or be diverted to nearby landscaping.

For More Information on Mobile Business:

Compliance Best Management Practices for Mobile Businesses

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Pet Waste and Tips

Owning a pet can be fun and carry a lot of responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is taking care of the community. Cypress Municipal Code states that animal waste is considered a pollutant*, and failure to pick up after your pet may result in a fine up to $500**. So next time you are walking or playing with your pet, remember to always pick up after their waste.
*Sec 13.22(a)(2)
**Sec 13.28(b)

Please follow these tips the next time you are out with your pet:

  • Take a bag. You can use grocery bags or purchase dog waste bag dispensers from your local pet store. Utilize these bags to pick up your petís waste
  • Throw your bag in the trash and do not leave it near the curb. These can get washed (by sprinklers, rainstorm, etc.) into the storm sewer and local water ways which makes the water unfit for drinking and swimming
  • Wash your hands after disposing

Please do not upset your neighbors and embarrass your pet. Do your part, pick up your petís waste, and keep the City of Cypress clean! To read more tips on how to take care of your pet and the environment, download the ďTips for Pet CareĒ brochure here. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Public Works at (714) 229-6741.

Clean Water or Poop Soup? pdf

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OVERKILL: Manage Pests and Protect Water Quality

Pesticides are one of the most dangerous pollutants found in our creeks, rivers, bays and ocean. When pesticides are sprayed on the sidewalks or in gardens, water from rain, hoses or sprinklers can carry these poisons to the storm drain where they flow, untreated, to our waterways. This can contaminate the water and threaten wildlife and marine life.

Choose the least toxic method of treatment

Pesticides should only be used when other less-toxic methods have failed. Also, use the smallest amount of pesticide needed for the job. For a list of pests and nonpesticide alternatives visit the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program at

The best way to manage pests is to avoid them in the first place. To avoid outbreaks consider:

  • Installing and repairing screens on windows and doors.
  • Sealing cracks around windows and doors.
  • Cleaning up spills and messes.
  • Keeping trash cans tightly sealed and emptying them regularly.
  • Cleaning dirty dishes.
  • Storing all food in pest-proof containers.
  • Cleaning up grease and crumbs.
  • Repairing leaking pipes.

For fewer pests in your garden consider:

  • Draining buckets or other items that hold standing water.
  • Using mulch in flower beds to stop weeds.
  • Planting trees, shrubs and grass well-suited for the climate.
  • Only fertilizing plants with fertilizers designed to release nutrients slowly, such as compost or organic fertilizers.
  • Cutting tall weeds, brush or grass.
  • Cleaning out gutters often and making sure that water drains away from the house.

Do Your Part! Remember, the Ocean Begins At Your Front Door.

For more information about what you can do to prevent urban runoff pollution or to report a water pollution problem, contact the Orange County Stormwater Program at 714-567-6363 or visit

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