The Green Room: Illicit Discharge

The City of Goleta Environmental Services Division would like to share some tips to help protect our watersheds. This month we are discussing the topic of illicit discharge (pollution), how to report pollution, and how to help protect our local waterbodies.  

What is Illicit Discharge?  

Any discharge to the storm drain sewer that is not composed entirely of stormwater is considered an illicit discharge. Pollutants that enter the street and reach the storm drain system will quickly flow into creeks and the ocean untreated. These discharges can often be detected when a storm drain has flow during dry weather. 

Signs of an Illicit Discharge 

Visible sewage waste, foul odor, suds, or other evidence of contamination are indicators of pollution. Here are some examples of illicit discharge: 

  • Laundry wastewater / detergent 
  • Septic tank seepage / illegal sanitary conditions 
  • Improper waste oil disposal / auto fluids flushing 
  • Home improvement waste (e.g., concrete and paint) 
  • Pesticides and fertilizers 
  • Pool / spa discharge 
  • Cooking grease / household waste 
  • Improper disposal of commercial and industrial hazardous waste 

Reporting Water Pollution 

If you witness someone actively dumping or discharging hazardous materials down a storm drain, onto a street, in a creek, or on the beach, call 911 immediately. 

Report water pollution within the City of Goleta to

Sanitary sewer (wastewater) spills should be reported to the Goleta Sanitary District (805-967-4519) or Goleta West Sanitary District (805-968-2617) immediately. 

Things You Can Do to Protect Water Quality 

Here are some great everyday tips to help prevent water pollution:  

  • Don’t overwater: Overwatering leads to runoff which leads to water pollution (e.g., fertilizers and pesticides). Utilize irrigation scheduling and technology.  
  • Sweep up, don’t hose down: Sweep up yard waste and either compost or dispose of it in a green waste bin. Utilize compost for soil improvements. 
  • Pet waste: pick up after your pet and dispose of properly. 
  • Vehicle repair: repair vehicle leaks; cover spilled fluids with kitty litter and then sweep into household waste. 
  • Car Wash: use a commercial car wash or wash your vehicle on the grass instead of the driveway. 
  • Never dump anything down the storm drain. 

For more great tips to help prevent storm drain pollution and protect creeks and the ocean, check out our brochure, “The Ocean Begins on Your Street” in English and Spanish