Frequently Asked Questions
What is stormwater pollution?
Runoff from rainstorms is called stormwater. Stormwater becomes polluted by flowing over dirty surfaces, such as parking lots. Stormwater pollution also takes place when someone illegally dumps materials, like oil or paint, directly into the storm drain. Polluted stormwater flows without treatment directly to creeks and rivers, where it can be harmful to aquatic life.
What are catch basins or storm drain inlets?
Catch basins and storm drain inlets are curbside receptacles whose sole function is to catch surface water runoff from rainfall and deliver it to the storm drain system, where it's eventually delivered to local creeks and rivers.
Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?
No. Storm drains and sanitary sewers have two distinct functions. Storm drains are intended to collect and transport runoff from rainfall. Storm drain systems do not remove pollutants from water before it is discharged into streams and rivers. Storm drain inlets are typically found in streets at the curb and in parking lots. Sanitary sewers collect wastewater from indoor plumbing such as toilets, sinks, washing machines and floor drains and take it to a sewage treatment plant. The treatment plant removes many pollutants from wastewater before it is discharged to the river.
Do drain inlets get cleaned out?
Yes. City crews maintain approximately 170 miles of storm drain pipelines citywide.
Why doesn't the City clean out all of the storm drain inlets right before a storm?
There are too many for City crews to clean in a short period of time. Storm drain inlets are maintained on a year-round schedule.
Why doesn't the City install filters or screens in front of drain inlets?
It sounds like a good idea, but during a rainstorm, trash is quickly swept into drain inlets. Any screen or filtration device placed in front of the drain inlet would cause trash to accumulate and clog the grate, preventing proper drainage and potentially creating a flood hazard. City maintenance crews would be unable to keep up with cleaning these devices, potentially creating flooding hazards. However, there are new technologies being developed in the form of filtration or screening devices to be installed and inserted inside catch basins. The Stormwater Program Engineering groups are always evaluating these new technologies for possible future use.
What types of pollutants are found in the storm drain system?
Heavy metals, paint thinner and paint products, motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, human and animal feces, antifreeze, and dead animals are just a few examples of the pollutants typically found in the storm drain system.
What is the City of Manteca doing about illegal dumping?
The City's Stormwater Ordinance makes it an environmental crime to knowingly dump or discharge hazardous materials into the storm drain system and the City can impose fines on violators when they are caught.
I see people dumping their used oil into storm drains all the time. What can I do?
Dumping used oil into the storm drain system is illegal. One gallon of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. To report the problem, call 456-8400. All City residents can recycle their used, uncontaminated motor oil free of charge. Contact the Solid Waste division at 456-8440.
What should I do if I see a neighbor, or know someone who's throwing trash into a storm drain?
Storm drains are designed for catching rain water only. Dumping trash or other pollutants down storm drain inlets is illegal and is a violation of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 as well as the City of Manteca's Stormwater Ordinance. If a neighbor is disposing of trash in the storm drain, they may not understand that drain inlets directly connect to our creeks and rivers. If you have an amicable relationship with your neighbor, it may be just a matter of informing and making them aware of its environmental impact. If it is someone who you feel is knowingly violating and repeatedly dumping into storm drains, please call the City of Manteca at 456-8400.
I have some paint/thinners/chemicals/batteries at home that need to be disposed of. Where can I take these?
Paints, paint thinner, chemicals and batteries are all household hazardous waste that need proper disposal. If you are a resident or business owner living within San Joaquin County, you can take your household hazardous waste materials to a Household Hazardous Waste event, or to the Lovelace Transfer Station at 2323 E. Lovelace Rd. Call (800) 449-4840 for drop off times, locations, or for more information.
What is the fine/penalty for illegal dumping?
Fines and penalties are based on the type and amount of illegally discharged material. Each violation can be based on, but not limited to, a cost recovery fine and/or enforcement fine.
How can I be environmentally responsible when washing my car?
The best place to wash your car is over a lawn or gravel area. Use biodegradable soaps to wash your vehicle, using as little water as possible. Shut off water while washing your car, or use a trigger nozzle to stop the flow. Remember not to leave your car on the lawn. We would highly recommend going to a full- or self-service car wash, since these facilities use recycled water.
Yard clippings and leaves are natural, so they don't cause any problems, right?
Grass, leaves and yard clippings that are repeatedly swept into catch basins can clog the drain, causing flooding and the potential for becoming a breeding ground for rodents and insects. Additionally, when grass and leaves decompose they encourage excessive growth of algae, which can deprive fish of adequate oxygen.