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Erase the Waste Campaign

Erase the Waste


Reducing storm water pollution in our neighborhoods and communities is easy and something everyone can easily take part in. With 10 million residents in Los Angeles County, small changes in pollution producing habits can go a long way in improving our region's water quality and our quality of life. The State Water Resources Board encourages Los Angeles County residents to take the following simple everyday actions to help Erase the Waste and be part of the pollution solution:


Community Tips

  • Take action. Organize or join in the clean up of a beach, river or community. Join with your neighbors to adopt a local park or playground and organize a clean up event. Do your part to keep your community and waterways healthy and clean and encourage others to participate. Get involved and beautify your neighborhood!

  • Educate your neighbors about the importance of preventing storm water pollution prevention. They can learn more by visiting this site.

    Get a group together and stencil storm drain inlets in your neighborhood with a storm water pollution prevention message. Call Heal the Bay at 1-800-HEALBAY (1-800-432-5229) for information on their neighborhood stenciling program and how to get involved.

    Report any illegal dumping of litter, debris or contaminants into local storm drain inlets, by calling 1-888-CLEAN LA (1-888-253-2652).

  • Adopt a storm drain in your neighborhood by yourself or with neighbors and take turns cleaning debris from its front grate and nearby gutters after rainstorms.

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Litter and Recycling Tips

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle materials whenever possible. By following the Three R's, you will be creating less waste that could end up on our streets and contribute to further storm water pollution.

  • Use a garbage can for trash, and recycle reusable materials. Trash thrown on the streets turns neighborhoods into smelly, unhealthy places to live and can be carried off into the storm drain system, causing pollution.

  • Avoid throwing litter and debris directly into storm drains. They are not meant for trash. Debris-laden gutters increase neighborhood pollution and clog gutters, which can cause street flooding and traffic congestion.

  • Always put your cigarette butts in ashtrays, not on the streets. Remember - our parks, playgrounds, and beaches are not ashtrays. "Hold on to your butts" and help keep these places clean and safe for Los Angeles' children and families to enjoy.

  • Empty automobile ashtrays into the trash, not out your car window. Keep these toxic butts from polluting our waterways…while also minimizing the risk that children and pets will ingest, choke on or get burned from these dangerous pollutants. It will also minimize the risk of fires.

  • Make sure to properly dispose of leftover household chemicals, paints and automotive fluids. These leftover chemicals should never be thrown away. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection event, where they can be recycled. Call 1-888-CLEAN LA
    to find a free event near you.

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Pet Tips

  • Pick up your pet's waste every single time. Animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals and nutrients, that when left on the ground, wash down storm drains and contaminate local waterways and beaches. There is a County ordinance, which bans dog owners from leaving animal waste on public or private property. If an owner disregards this law they may be fined.

  • Throw away pet waste in the garbage; never wash it out into the street or into the storm drain.

  • Take advantage of the complimentary bags offered in dispensers at local parks. Use them to dispose of your pet's waste.

  • Ensure you always have extra bags in your car so you are prepared when you travel with your dog.

  • Carry extra bags when walking your dog and make them available to other pet owners who are without.

  • Teach children how to properly clean up after a pet. Encourage them to throw used bags in the nearest trash receptacle if they are away from home on a walk.

  • Put a friendly message on the bulletin board at the local dog park to remind pet owners to clean up after their dogs.

  • Tell friends and neighbors about the ill effects of animal waste on the environment. Encourage them to clean up after pets and teach their children as well.

  • If possible, bathe your pets indoors, using less toxic shampoos, or have your pet professionally groomed. Runoff from pet shampoos and soaps can be toxic and contribute to storm water pollution.

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Home Improvement Tips

  • Choose water-based paints (such as latex) instead of oil-based, as they are less toxic and can be rinsed off equipment with only water; no toxic solvent is necessary.

  • If you're using water-based paints, you can wash your paint brushes directly in your kitchen or bathroom sink. For oil-based paint, brushes should be cleaned with paint thinner, which can be filtered and reused.

  • Stretch your paint supply. Use only the amount of paint you need to get the job done and reuse any leftover paint for touch ups.

  • Dispose of unwanted paints, solvents and household cleaners responsibly. Never dump these contaminants in storm drains or wash paint-related products over the lawn, gutter or storm drains. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site to be recycled. To find a free collection event near you call 1-888-CLEAN LA (1-888-253-2652).

  • Unused and leftover paint can also be donated to a number of community groups. Check with local theater/performance groups, school art departments or anti-graffiti organizations to see if they can utilize your leftovers.

  • When working with concrete, cement, or mortar, keep materials from blowing or flowing in the driveway, street, gutter or storm drain by covering them with a tarp.

  • When cutting bricks and pavers, do it over a container that collects sediment and sweep up any remnants from the ground, to prevent it from ending up in the streets or storm drains.

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Automotive Tips

  • Inspect and maintain your car regularly to prevent oil and antifreeze leaks, which can contribute to storm water pollution.

  • When changing vehicle fluids - motor oil, transmission, brake and radiator fluids - drain them into separate drip pans to avoid spills and never dispose of these fluids in the street, gutter or garbage - it contributes to storm water pollution and is illegal.

  • Recycle your used motor oil and other automotive fluids by taking them to a certified used oil recycling center where it can be disposed of properly. For a location near you in Los Angeles County, call 1-888-CLEAN LA (1-888-253-2652).

  • Never wash spills into the gutter or street where they will end up flowing into storm drains. Clean up spilled motor oil, grease, antifreeze or other automotive fluid with kitty litter or other absorbent materials and dispose of in the trash.

  • Wash and clean your car on a grassy area, so the ground can filter the soaps, polishers, waxes and other chemicals in the water and prevent them from entering the storm drain system. Or take your car to a commercial car wash that uses water efficiently and disposes of runoff properly.

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Gardening Tips

  • Do not fertilize or apply pesticides near ditches, gutters or storm drains, where direct runoff of these contaminants can easily occur.

  • Overwatering your yard carries lawn and garden chemicals into the street, down the storm drain and into our local waterways. Adjust sprinkler times and spray volume to prevent water runoff.

  • Purchase only the amount of fertilizers and chemicals you need. Store any leftovers in a covered area and in sealed, waterproof containers to prevent runoff.

  • Never dispose of lawn or garden chemicals in storm drains - this is illegal dumping. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection event to dispose of them for free.
    Call 1-888-CLEAN LA (1-888-253-2652) to locate an event near you.

  • Apply garden products sparingly and follow the labeled instructions. Try to spot apply pesticides and fertilizers to problem areas, rather than blanket apply the entire yard.

  • Use non-toxic or less toxic products to reduce the amount of chemicals applied to your garden and lawn whenever possible.

  • Rake or sweep up sidewalks and driveways, rather than hosing them down. Using a hose forces debris and chemical residues into stormdrains, which can clog gutters and lead to street flooding.

  • Minimize the need for pesticides by choosing plant species that are resistant to insects and disease. Landscaping with native plant species works best.

  • Bag or compost leaves, grass and other yard waste to prevent them from blowing into storm drains, which can lead to clogged gutters and street flooding.

  • Limit use of pesticides and fertilizers prior to rainstorms. Contrary to popular belief, using these products close to the time of rain does not help distribute the chemicals. The rainwater actually dilutes their strength, with most of the chemicals washing off into the storm drains. Always apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and follow directions.

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