Salt Lake Valley Health Department
Bureau of Water Quality and Hazardous Waste
788 East Woodoak Lane (5380 South)
Murray, Utah 84107
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Stormwater program? What does it do?
The Stormwater program is primarily responsible for investigating illegal discharges into the waterways of Salt Lake County. Program personnel advise and assist other government agencies with releases and discharges into local waterways.
In addition, inspectors from the program help businesses by advising them on good management practices designed to prevent stormwater pollution. Finally, the program takes the lead in enforcing violations of the Utah Clean Water Act and Salt Lake Valley Health Department regulations.
Why can’t I dump soapy water into the gutter or storm sewer drain?
First off, there are two sewer systems. The sanitary sewer is the system that takes wastewater from your sinks, toilets, showers, dishwashers and washing machines to the water treatment plant. There the pollutants in the water are either removed or reduced to acceptable levels and then the treated water is discharged into the river.
The storm sewer system is used to drain rainwater and snowmelt off the streets, parking lots, driveways, etc. This water goes directly into the nearest stream, river, pond, lake or canal without any treatment whatsoever, so dumping soapy water into the gutter is no different than dumping it into the nearest creek.
So how do I keep my sidewalk and driveway clean?
First, you should use “dry” cleaning methods such as picking up the debris or sweeping up the dust. Then if you do choose to spray the surface off you should use only clean water and divert the runoff onto a landscaped area such as a flower bed or lawn.
If you must use soap or a degreaser, then you should block off the gutter or storm drain first in order to capture the wastewater and prevent it from entering the storm drain. Then using a wet/dry vacuum you should suck up the wastewater and dispose of it in a sanitary sewer drain such as a toilet or floor drain inside your house or business.
What about cars that leak oil or antifreeze? Isn't that pollution too?
Yes, it is. However, it is considered a “de minimis” amount under the law, meaning it’s not a violation of the Utah Clean Water Act to have a few oil spots under your car.
While you should try to clean up any spilled oil or antifreeze, it’s not considered to be a significant source of pollution unless there’s enough to create a pool or flow away.
What should I do if I see someone dumping dirty water into a storm drain?
Call the Health Department right away. Our emergency number is (801) 580-6681 and someone is on duty there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year including holidays.
Please include important details like the address of the incident, descriptions of the person or vehicle involved, the time of the incident and your name and contact information; however, you can remain anonymous if you wish. Photographs of the incident can be especially helpful. Depending on the situation the on-call inspector will respond immediately.