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Prevent Stormwater Pollution

Healthy and vibrant waterways are an important part of our quality of life in Tacoma.  Millions of pounds of toxic pollutants enter our waterways every year as a result of rain washing over yard chemicals, oil, soaps, pet waste and other toxins that enter the storm drains, streams and ultimately the Puget Sound.


The City of Tacoma has invested millions of dollars in stormwater pollution prevention and restoration activities like the clean-up of the Thea Foss and Wheeler-Osgood waterways, annual storm line cleaning, ongoing business and construction inspections, and pollution source tracing, but the City’s efforts aren’t sufficient alone. We need the help of everyone who lives and works here to help improve the health of Puget Sound and make Tacoma a more livable community.


How Can You Help Prevent Stormwater Pollution?

Rain that hits surfaces turns into stormwater runoff that takes with it all the pollutants it comes in contact with, such as yard chemicals, oil, grease, pet waste, and heavy metals. This stormwater flows untreated to local waterways and the Puget Sound.  Everyone must do their part to help protect our local waterways. Stormwater pollution prevention is easy, below are ways that you can help.   

  • Adopt a Storm Drain 
  • Report Stormwater Pollution
  • Scoop Poop
  • Sponsor a Pet Waste Station
  • Wash Your Car the Green Way
  • Don't Drip and Drive - Fix Leaks
  • Use Natural Yard Care Practices
  • Properly Store Items and Properly Dispose of Waste
  • Trash the Butts

Adopt a Storm Drain - Sweep Up, Rake Up, Pick Up


Link to Adopt A Drain Website



Sign up online for FREE - Individuals, organizations and businesses can participate.  Visit adopt-a-drain.org/wa to adopt a storm drain in your neighborhood and commit to keeping your storm drain clear of litter, debris and pollution.


By adopting a storm drain you not only help prevent stormwater pollution, you help to reduce flooding!


Receive a yard sign to show your commitment to keeping Puget Sound clean and inspire your neighbors to join in.


Clean up tools and safety gear will be provided by the city to ensure you stay safe while helping to protect Puget Sound.




Report Stormwater Pollution

Oil Spill PictureIf you see activities that threaten the health of local waterways, call Tacoma FIRST 311 or report it through their web page. Customers can dial 311 within Tacoma city limits or (253) 591-5000 from anywhere else.


Report the following activities: 

  • Uncontrolled, muddy construction runoff
  • Spills
  • Car washing in the street or on a driveway
  • Power washing with soapy water
  • Dumping of any kind into the street or into the storm drain

Report the following items immediately:

  • Oily sheen or colored liquids
  • Chemical or sewage smell
  • Foam
  • Garbage accumulation

Scoop Poop

At home and on walks: scoop poop, bag it, and dispose of it in the garbage.


Sponsor a Pet Waste Station

Apply to sponsor a dog waste station by filling out an application and returning it by mail or email. The City provides the station and refills on bags*. To apply for the program you should: 

  • Picture of Pet Waste Bag StationLive within the City of Tacoma.
  • Identify a location in a neighborhood common area where there is a dog waste problem (i.e. park, open space, greenbelt, etc.)
  • Identify a "sponsor" in your neighborhood who will submit an application and commit to:
    1) Obtain replacement bags*
    2) Report the number of dog bags used at the end of each year
    3) Monitor station use and condition
  • Stations can only be placed adjacent to the applicant's property 
  • If you are not the owner of the property where you would like a station installed, such as a rental unit, then permission from the property owner is required
  • Your responsibility will be to check the station and to refill the bags when empty. *You must be able to pick up station keys and replacement bags at the EnviroHouse.         

Find out more and download the program details here.


Pet Waste Station Application

Wash Your Car the Green Way

Take your car to a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes pretreat washwater and send it to the City wastewater treatment plants.


Don't Drip and Drive - Fix That Leak!

don't drip

Puget Sound Starts Here campaign helps bring awareness throughout the Puget Sound region on the impacts of car leaks (oils, coolant and other toxins) to stormwater. The Department of Ecology has teamed up with other state, local and non-profit organizations to offer free Fix That Leak! workshops.

  • Workshops are taught by certified automotive instructors from local, participating technical schools.

  • Workshops are open to everyone in the Puget Sound region.

  • Workshops include a two-hour class about basic automotive systems, maintenance and information about the impacts of leaks.

  • Each class participant has the option to stay up to two hours later to have their vehicle inspected by the class instructor.

The fixcarleaks.org website contains information on how to diagnose car leaks, tips on what to expect from your mechanic, schedule and registration details for upcoming auto leak workshops at all participating locations, and a list of inspection and repair shops throughout the region and locally.  


Remember, if you see a stain where you park your car, get the leak fixed!  


Use Natural Yard Care Practices

Garden Maintenance PictureOur yards are our outdoor homes: fun, beautiful, great places for relaxing. But in taking care of them, we often use water inefficiently, produce a lot of yard waste, and overuse chemicals that are bad for the environment and our families' health. The good news is, by making some simple changes in how we care for our yards we can:

  • Save money on water, waste disposal, and chemicals.
  • Save time - working with nature is easier in the long run.
  • Protect our families' health by reducing contact with chemicals.
  • Protect the environment by conserving our precious water supplies, and leaving more in the rivers for salmon and other wildlife; keeping our rivers, lakes, groundwater, and marine waters clean by reducing the need for chemicals; and recycling yard trimmings at home into free fertilizer.

Make a healthy, beautiful yard without working too hard. How? It's easy......start with these five steps:

  1. Build healthy soil
  2. Plant right for your site
  3. Practice smart watering
  4. Think twice before using pesticides
  5. Practice natural lawn care

For additional information on natural yard care go to naturalyardcare.org. To talk with a yard care specialist, contact your local Pierce County Master Gardener at (253) 798-7170 or visit https://extension.wsu.edu/pierce/mg/.


Properly Store Items and Properly Dispose of Waste

Store paints, cleaning supplies, chemicals, and any other items that could pose a threat in tightly sealed, clearly labeled containers. Proper storage will decrease the likelihood of spills and leaks. Properly dispose of all wastes. Do not dump anything in the street or down the catch basins. Do not dump hazardous materials in your sink or toilet. Find out more how to properly dispose of your waste on the City of Tacoma's Recovery and Transfer Center webpage


Trash the Butts

Cigarette butts are trash! Improperly disposed of cigarette butts contaminate local waterways and are unsightly. Be a responsible smoker. Use a butt can or personal ashtray to dispose of cigarettes or fully distinguish the butt and throw it in the trash. 


Did you know?

  • Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world.
  • One in three cigarette butts end up as litter.
  • Cigarette butts seep toxic chemicals into our environment within hours of contact with water; the toxins released from one cigarette butt left in one gallon of water for one day will kill 80% of aquatic life added to that water.
  • Cigarette litter can linger in the environment for as much as 25 years.