Storm Water Pollution Prevention

It's up to Us to Prevent Stormwater Pollution

The City of Alhambra has two drainage systems, (1) the sewers and (2) the storm drains. The storm drain system was designed to prevent flooding by carrying excess rainwater away from City streets out to the Los Angeles River and finally, out to the ocean. During storms in urban areas, rainwater runoff carries pollutants generated from commercial businesses, residential areas, streets, and sidewalks, directly to the ocean, creating stormwater pollution. Materials such as sediment, paint, plaster, yard waste, used motor oil, animal waste, and trash contain chemicals, nutrients, and bacteria that are harmful to aquatic life and humans. Alhambra Municipal Code Section 16.34.

Please consider the best management practices (BMPs) listed to assist with storm-water pollution prevention:

  • Contain all home improvement materials onsite and cleanup material spills without the use of water.
  • Properly dispose of residual materials at a local collection center, household hazardous waste collection event or in coordination with Waste Management.
  • Properly dispose of all yard waste in your green or burgundy cart.
  • Properly dispose of trash and construction waste.
  • Do not dump or pour leftover materials in the gutter, street, or storm drains.

The Federal Clean Water Act ("CWA") prohibits the discharge of any substance into any storm drain. Any person in violation of the CWA is subject to severe civil penalties ranging from $2,500 to $50,000 per day of violation. Furthermore, this is also a violation of the City's Municipal Code; specifically, Chapter 16.34 which may impose administrative citations per violation.

Storm-Water Quality & Regulations

Water quality is a growing concern in communities throughout the country and cities including Alhambra are focusing on storm water runoff reuse as one approach to address this concern. Stormwater runoff results from rain that is not absorbed into the ground. Runoff is also generated outside of the "rainy season" by nuisance water resulting from activities such as over-watering lawns, vehicle washing, or draining of swimming pools and other water features. This excess water carries trash, motor oil, fertilizers, pet waste, and other contaminants directly to our lakes, streams, and beaches untreated. Excess contaminants dumped into our environment and the depletion of our valuable water resources negatively affect the entire community.

The City of Alhambra is working with neighboring cities to install large-scale projects that capture stormwater runoff. These projects will treat storm water runoff as a resource rather than a nuisance by recharging ground water supplies. Projects are still in the design phase and more information will be available in the near future.

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Directory

Do you have items that are recyclable but not sure where to recycle them? You can search the Earth911 website and click "Where to Recycle" to search local places that recycle specific items. Thanks for doing your part in preventing stormwater pollution and helping the environment.

Smart Gardening Workshops

Attend a free Smart Gardening Workshop and learn more about backyard composting, worm composting, grass recycling, water-wise gardening, and fire-wise gardening! Workshops are about 1.5 hours long and are offered in two levels:

  1. Beginning
  2. Advanced

Compost bins can be purchased at the subsidized prices of$40 each for a backyard compost bin and $65 each for a worm compost bin (this price includes 1/2 pound of worms).

View workshop schedule on the Los Angeles County Public Works website.

Tips to Keep Pollutants out of Our Storm Drain System

Southern California's dry summers create hard soils that typically cannot absorb the first rains of the season. To keep pollutants out of our storm drain system, the following practices are recommended to minimize pollutants from running into the streets and gutters. Also included are tips to help you prepare for the effects of inclement weather.

1. Minimize the use of toxic chemicals Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and clean up spills quickly.

View the schedule information related to the disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW), or call (888) CLEAN-LA. Common HHW that can get into the storm drains include detergents and cleansers; swimming pool chemicals; construction materials; paint/solvents; automobile oil and grease, radiator fluids and antifreeze; pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, lawn clippings, soil, fertilizer.

2. Apply pesticides and fertilizers sparingly.

Pesticides contain products that promote algae growth in local waterways. Abundant algae growth suffocates aquatic life. Use non-toxic alternatives for pest control. If you must use chemicals, apply sparingly and do not apply when rain is forecast. Take unwanted leftovers to an HHW collection event. Never dispose of such products in the trash.

3. Pick up animal waste and dispose of it in your black trash container.

Seal animal waste in a bag and dispose of it in your black trash container. Animal waste contains harmful bacteria and organisms that can spread serious diseases if allowed to reach the storm drain system.

4. Take unwanted paint to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection event. Never hose down spills, equipment, or dirt to the street.

Properly clean up after using oil-based paints and take any leftovers to a HHW collection center. When using latex water-based paints, you can wash brushes directly in the kitchen or bathroom sink.

5. Recycle grass clippings by composting them.

Leave grass clippings on the lawn where they will quickly decompose, returning nutrients to the soil and preventing yard waste from getting into the storm drain. Grass-cycling makes caring for your lawn easier and will not cause thatch. It can reduce mowing time and save you money by reducing the need for fertilizer. It also saves valuable landfill space.

6. Inspect rain gutters attached to your home or apartment and remove the build-up of leaves or debris.

Remove build-up of leaves and debris from rain gutters and roof so will rain water will flow and drain properly (preventing a possible roof collapse). Have a qualified person check the roof for possible leaks, and have them repaired before the rain arrives.

7. Regularly inspect outdoor sump pumps. Clogged pumps can lead to water buildup in your yard, which can result in flooding.

Remove all debris from the area around the drain and pump, and run-test it for brief periods at regular intervals. This is especially important for parking areas or yards that are below grade level.

8. Properly dispose of litter, trash and yard waste in your black yard waste container.

Leaves, trash and other debris that finds its way into the storm drain flows from the flood control channel into the ocean. Along this journey, the potential for clogged gutters and resulting flooding is high, not to mention the unnecessary pollution of ocean waters.

9. Call the City immediately if you see someone dumping hazardous waste into a storm drain or find hazardous substances (such as oil and chemicals) that have been dumped on the ground or into a storm drain

To report hazardous waste dumping:

  • Call 626-570-5067 during regular business hours.
  • After normal business hours or on a weekend, contact the Alhambra Police Department at 626-570-5168.

The Alhambra Business Inspection Program to Eliminate Discharge Pollutants (PDF) - To minimize the hazards of storm drain pollution, the Utilities Department inspects industrial plants, auto body shops, gas stations, restaurants and other businesses to eliminate non-stormwater discharges and to ensure that the best management practices are being implemented to decrease the potential for pollutants entering the City's storm drain system. Inspectors will be checking for potential exposure to discharge pollutants at loading/unloading areas, raw/final material and equipment storage, outside manufacturing processes, waste disposal areas, and will review cleaning practices. Where appropriate, inspectors will observe drains, pipes, and drainage areas to observe any evidence of spills

Tips for Being Ready for Stormy Weather

1. Check wiring around your home to ensure it is not tangled in tree limbs, and that it is not laying directly on any part of your roof or other structure or drooping excessively.

Any power lines lying low enough to touch should never be handled or stepped on. Immediately notify a qualified person from the utility company and/or the Alhambra Fire Department to inspect the wiring and alleviate the hazard.

2. Plant adequate, low-level ground cover to help prevent mudslides from bare-soiled areas if you live adjacent to a slope or hill.

Check the hillside and other yard areas for leaning trees or those with broken branches. These should be removed and/or braced to withstand wind and rain conditions. Pick up sandbags and have them ready. Sand can be purchased at a hardware store, such as Home Depot, or a landscaping and gardening store. The Alhambra Fire Department offers a limited number of sandbags available to residents at no charge. Locations are 301 North First Street; 2200 W Main Street; 1215 S Sixth Street; 2505 West Norwood Place.

3. Charge flashlights with fresh batteries.

It is essential during power outages to have flashlights on hand. Candles should not be used as a substitute for lighting, and should not be left burning when residents go to sleep or leave the house. Carrying lit candles, while walking, can pose both burn and fire hazards.

4. Store extra supplies of non-perishable food items and water.

Store extra supplies of non-perishable food items and water for those times when you can't get to the store. Leaving home during a storm may be dangerous and hazardous. A supply of food and water will ensure adequate supplies until the emergency has passed.

5. Buy a good umbrella and rain gear.

Have rainy weather clothing and umbrellas for the entire family to help keep everyone dry and ward off colds and flu.

6. Know Who to Call.

When there is a serious problem, and immediate help is needed, it helps to have a list of appropriate emergency numbers handy. Why not post this list by your phone?