What You Need To Know About Dry Weather Runoff

You’ve seen the signs — “Only Rain Down the Drain,” “The Drain is Just For Rain,” and “No Dumping, Drains to Ocean.” It’s essential that wekeep mindful of only allowing rainwater into the storm drain system. Why? Because our storm drain system flows, untreated, directly into our creeks, channels, rivers, and oceans. Even small releases can negatively impact community health and Ventura County watersheds.

In fact, non-stormwater discharge (aka dry weather runoff), is prohibited by law! The City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (stormwater permit) prohibits most non-stormwater discharges. See Page 33 of this PDF, click here. Non-stormwater discharge is defined as the release of any material to a storm drain not entirely composed of stormwater. This could consist of incidental releases, flows, spills, escape, or illegal disposal of liquids and solids.

What are the most common forms of dry weather runoff and how can you help prevent runoff?

Yard Clippings/Green Waste/Leaves, etc.

When maintaining grass, trees, and scrubs on your property make sure to clear, remove, and recycle your home’s yard clippings and prevent them from entering into city streets and sidewalks. Be sure to dispose of green waste in the proper recycling bin.

Chemicals, Pesticides, and Fertilizers

It is important to apply chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers only as needed and as directed on labels. Overuse of these materials is a key contributor to stormwater pollution. Never use chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers around the drain or bare ground and if rain is predicted within 24 hours.

Chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers, as well as waste generated from the use of those products, must be managed according to state regulations. A good rule of thumb is to use secondary containment to prevent accidental discharges or leaks. If spills occur, make sure to contain material and use absorbent mats, socks, or kitty litter to prevent spills from reaching the street or storm drain system.


Make sure to place covers on waste bins and keep the lids securely closed. Never put liquid waste directly into a dumpster and waste bin. If your waste bins are leaking or broken replace them or contact your waste service provider to request a replacement. When it does rain, it is best to keep waste bins stored outdoors under a roofed or covered area to reduce exposure to rain.

Driveways and Parking Lots

Regularly sweep and collect debris accumulated in and around driveways and parking areas. Be sure not use a hose to clear hardscapes of accumulated material – hosing debris, oil, grease, soap, and other pollutants into the storm drain system can result in a fine.

Cleaning Products

Keep cleaning products properly stored so if there’s a spill it won’t wind up in the storm drain system. When it does rain be sure to store cleaning products indoors or under cover to prevent exposure to rain. Cleaning solutions can harm wildlife (even if labeled nontoxic or biodegradable).

Use self-contained sinks and tanks when cleaning parts with degreasing solvents. Never pour materials into street, curbs, or storm drains. You might also try a water-based cleaning solution. Be sure to dispose of all non-hazardous wash water into indoor drains like sinks and toilets.

Oil Changes

Use pans to catch leaks when working with engines or machinery. Don’t forget to recycle your oil at a Certified Oil Recycling Center. Find out more information here: cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/933

Machinery and Batteries

Store machinery and batteries in trays or with drip pans that will contain potential leaks or spills. When disposing of batteries be sure to recycle them through a certified collection center. Find out more information here: cityofventura.ca.gov/323/Hazardous-Waste-Toxics-Reduction.