Pollution Prevention

There is a direct link between you and San Francisco Bay. 

What you send down your drain can affect the wastewater system all the way from your home or business to the Bay.

Prevent pollution from going down the drain in the first place! Keep the following items out of sinks and toilets to protect the Bay.





Residential Pollution Prevention

9 things you should not flush

Everyday household and personal hygiene products can wreak havoc on your plumbing, plug up the treatment plant's equipment or contain materials that pass through the treatment plant directly to the Bay.

No matter if the label says "disposable" or "flushable," never flush these items.

  1. flushable wipes (they’re not so flushable!)
  2. sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators
  3. diapers
  4. condoms
  5. paper towels and rags
  6. hair
  7. dental floss
  8. cigarette butts
  9. kitty litter and doggy waste bags
  10. expired or unwanted medicines (take to a designated collection site)

These things do not break down in the sewer. Instead, they tangle and clump and the debris creates massive obstructions that can lead to sewer back-ups.

What can be flushed? Only two things: human waste and toilet paper.

What to keep out of the drain

Some household products should never be poured down indoor or outdoor drains.

  • Fats, oils and grease harden in pipes and clog sewers, leading to costly and messy back-ups.
  • Cleaning and gardening products may contain chemicals that wastewater treatment cannot fully remove and will pollute San Francisco Bay.
  • Medicines, unwanted or expired, should not be flushed down the toilet. Pharmaceutical drugs cannot be fully removed by traditional wastewater treatment. They may contain substances with unknown or harmful effects on San Francisco Bay aquatic life. Instead, safely get rid of them at a designated collection site.
More residential pollution prevention tips can be found here.

Commercial and Industrial Waste

Pretreatment and pollution prevention programs help industries and businesses reduce the discharge of pollutants to the community sewer and ultimately the Bay. Certain businesses and activities are required to obtain a permit or to implement best management practices to help with Bay protection.

East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program

This joint effort helps protect San Francisco Bay by requiring repair of old, cracked sanitary sewer pipes.