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Best Management Practices

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Take Action - Report Dumping into or around Storm Drains

The city's stormwater runoff pollution program is concerned with preventing any toxic substances and other pollutants from entering the storm drain system, which flows directly into our creeks and on to the Bay. These pollutants endanger the quality of the water in our creeks and can eventually harm birds, marine life and even humans. Examples of pollutants illegally flushed into storm drains include: vehicle fluids such as motor oil, anti-freeze, and brake fluid; concrete rinse-water; grease from cleaning restaurant kitchen mats; paint and paint cleanup water; pool water, and mud hosed into the gutter from grading projects. 

Cupertino's Watercourse Protection Ordinance prohibits the discharge of residential and industrial waste to storm drains. Violators could be cited $25,000 per day. 

To report an illegal discharge or dumping incident that occurred in Cupertino, contact the City of Cupertino at the following phone numbers:

Monday – Friday 7:30am – 5:30pm 408.777.3354 or

Monday – Friday: 6:00am – 3:00pm 408.777.3269

After Hours – 408.299.2507 (Santa Clara County Communications will notify the City’s on-call staff).

Drain Pools and Spas to Sanitary Sewer

If you need to drain your pool, spa, or fountain, please do not drain into a street, gutter, or storm drain.  Spas and fountains can pollute creeks with copper, chlorine, sediments and other contaminants. Discharge water to a sanitary sewer clean-out.  If you are on a septic system or have no sanitary sewer clean-out, contact your waste water treatment authority @ 650.329.2598.  See additional information: Draining Your Pools and Spas Brochure

Reduce Auto Pollution

Washing, changing oil, leaking fluids, and engine cleaning can all contribute to the pollution problem. Auto fluids and particles from brake pad and tire wear build up on our driveways, streets and parking lots every day. During rainstorms, rainwater carries the oil, antifreeze, brake pad dust and other pollutants into the storm drain system and flows directly to local creeks and San Francisco Bay, where it can harm plants and animals that live there. Oil and grease can clog fish gills and block oxygen from entering the water. Pollutants from cars are toxic to the internal systems of fish and animals and can also break down the oil on bird feathers making it more difficult for them to float and repel water.

  •  Keep car wash water out of storm drains – Since all types of soap and detergent (including “biodegradable” soaps) are toxic to fish and other aquatic creatures, soapy water should be poured down a sink or toilet, or on a landscaped area where it won’t run onto a sidewalk. Better yet, take it to a commercial car wash. Clean brake dust off wheels with paper towels and dispose of the towels in the trash.

  • Fix fluid leaks immediately - If you see a buildup of fluids on your parking spot, place a plastic tarp or drip pan underneath your car until you repair the leak. Dispose of the fluid and plastic tarp/ drip pan at your local Household Hazardous Waste collection center.

  • Change your oil on time -  The longer engine oil is used, the thinner it gets. Leaks are more likely, and exhaust emissions are increased.

  • Do it yourselfers, do it right - If you change your own oil or other automotive fluids, drain fluid into a drain pan. Use a funnel to pour fluid into a plastic container and recycle the used fluids at a Household Hazardous Waste collection center or event.

  • Clean Engines Properly - Engine cleaners contain degreasers that contain highly toxic solvents that are dangerous to work with and harmful to our watershed. Read labels carefully before you buy. Avoid products containing naphtha, nonylphenol ethozylate, trichloroethane or trichloroethylene. Try limonene, a citrus-based solvent. Use rags instead of water to clean your engine. Don’t allow wash water to go the storm drain.

  • Carpool or use alternative forms of transportation when possible.

For more information about how to protect your local watershed, call 1(866)WATERSHED or visit for a free Watershed Watch Kit.  

Fundraising Car Washes

To help prevent pollution from car wash events, the Cupertino Environmental Services Division has purchased a Sudsafe storm drain protection kit that can be borrowed by nonprofit and school groups.  Along with other supplies, the kit contains an insert to block a storm drain and a pump to divert wash water to nearby landscaping or to the sanitary sewer for treatment and discharge. Click here to access the City's Car Wash Kit Application. For more information on best practices for car wash fundraising, or information regarding borrowing the City's car wash kit, call Cupertino Environmental Services at 408.777.3354.  Additional information on How to Hold a Car Wash.