Illicit Discharges to Storm Drain and Sewer

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To Report Illicit discharges
Reno: 775-334-INFO(4636)
Sparks: 775-861-4152
Q: What are Reno, Sparks and Washoe County doing about illicit discharges?

 

A:Illicit discharging of trash, paint products, motor oil and other chemicals into storm drains is against the law! The act is punishable under Nevada State law and is a federal violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972. In addition, the act is a violation of the municipal codes and ordinances of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County that prohibit dumping of garbage and wastes onto roadways or into the storm drain system. Water discharged to the facilities in the Truckee Meadows is by law limited to only unpolluted water including rainwater, groundwater, street drainage, subsurface drainage, irrigation runoff and yard drainage. The cities and county can impose stiff fines on the perpetrators if they are caught dumping or are proven to have illegally dumped wastes into a storm drain facility.

Q: I see people dumping their used oil into storm drains all the time. What can I do?

A: Dumping used oil into storm drains is illegal. One gallon of motor oil can ruin a million gallons of fresh water - a year's supply of water for 50 people. To report illicit discharging in Reno call 775-334-4636 (775-722-4660 for after hours emergencies), or in Sparks call 775-861-4152.

To properly dispose of your used, but uncontaminated (mixed with other fluids) motor oil, dispose of it at the Refuse, Inc. Transfer Station on Commercial Way in Reno (329-8822). Leave your used oil in a clean, closable plastic container, such as a gallon milk container, with your other recyclables and Refuse, Inc. will recycle the used oil for you. In addition, many nearby gas stations and quick lube and oil change centers will recycle your used motor oil for free. For more information call the Recycling Hotline at 800-597-5865. Or to locate the facility nearest you, check the Earth's 911 website.

Q: What happens if I see a neighbor, or know someone who's throwing trash into a storm drain?

A: Storm drains are for the sole purpose of draining rainwater and the overflow of certain municipal uses of water. Knowingly or unknowingly dumping trash, pollutants and debris into catch basins is illegal. If it's a neighbor, they may not understand the catch basin's direct connection to the Truckee River. If you have an amicable relationship with him/her, it may be just a matter of informing and making them aware of its environmental impact. If this doesn't work, in Reno call 775-334-4636, on in Sparks call 775-861-4152.

Q: How can I properly dispose of used motor oil, antifreeze and old car batteries?

A: To properly dispose of old car batteries and used, but uncontaminated (mixed with other fluids) motor oil and antifreeze, take them to the Refuse, Inc. Transfer Station on Commercial Way in Reno (329-8822). Leave your used oil and antifreeze in clean, closable plastic containers, such as gallon milk containers. In addition to the transfer station, many nearby gas stations and quick lube and oil change centers will dispose/recycle old car batteries, used motor oil and antifreeze for free. For more information call the Recycling Hotline at 800-597-5865. Or to locate the facility nearest you, check the Earth's 911 website.

Facts about Used Motor Oil
  • Re-refining used oil takes only about one-third the energy required to refine crude oil to lubricant quality.
  • It has been estimated that if all used oil improperly disposed of by do-it-yourselfers were recycled, it could produce enough energy to power 360,000 homes each year or could provide 96 million quarts of high-quality motor oil.
  • One gallon of used oil used as fuel contains about 140,000 Btu of energy.
  • A gallon of used oil from a single oil change can ruin a million gallons of fresh water - a year's supply for 50 people.
  • Concentrations of 50 to 100 parts per million (ppm) of used oil in wastewater can foul sewage treatment processes.
  • Films of oil on the surface of water prevent the replenishment of dissolved oxygen, impair photosynthetic processes, and block sunlight. These processes are vital for sustaining aquatic life.
  • Oil dumped onto land reduces soil productivity.
  • Toxic effects of used oil on freshwater organisms vary, but significant long-term effects have been found at concentrations of 310 ppm in several freshwater fish species.
  • Publicity about recycling used oil can triple do-it-yourselfer participation and greatly reduce improper disposal!

Source: EPA530-SW-89-039A, How to Set Up a Local Program to Recycle Used Oil.

 

Q: I have some paint/thinners/chemicals at home that need to be disposed of. Where can I take these?

A: Products used at home such as paints, cleaners, stains and varnishes, car batteries, solvents, gasoline, herbicides, pool chemicals and pesticides need to be stored and disposed of properly. The used or discarded contents of such consumer products are known as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Improper and unsafe disposal of HHW includes pouring these products down the drain, on the ground, into storm drains, or putting them out with the trash.

 

For additional information on locations to dispose of, or to recycle HHW, please visit the Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful website.

Q: I have some old pesticides and herbicides at home that need to be disposed of. Where can I take these?

A: Improper disposal of old pesticides and herbicides can result in stormwater pollution, contamination of the local groundwater supply and unwanted illnesses to family members. Homeowners in the Truckee Meadows can safely dispose of these chemicals for free at the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Participation in the Nevada Department of Agriculture program requires that homeowners inventory the name and approximate amount of pesticides and herbicides that need disposal and the contact the program for details about upcoming collection and disposal events (775-688-1182 ext. 276). Other acceptable products include fungicides and rodenticides.