The first significant rainfall of the season is technically known as the ‘first flush’. First flush events have a scouring effect on local neighborhoods, moving bacteria, sediment, fertilizers, cleaners and metals into local waterways. During the “first flush” or first major rainstorm of the season, heavy rains dislodge and mobilize these pollutants straight into the storm drain system which then empties, untreated, into local creeks, river and eventually the Monterey Bay. Residents and business owners can take action before the first flush and other rain events to reduce the amount of pollution being carried downstream. Here is how:

  1. Remove dead leaves, debris and trash from your gutter, your driveway, your yard, or the street and dispose of them properly.
  2. Get your sewer lateral inspected: Ensure that there are no major cracks that allow for sewage to seep out and into the groundwater. An inspection can also ensure that rainwater seeping into the ground cannot infiltrate your pipe and back it up.
  3. Pick up pet waste in your yard: Rainwater acts as a conduit for bacteria to move to nearby creeks and streams or seep into the groundwater.
  4. Do not apply fertilizers before a rain event.
  5. Properly store or dispose of fertilizers, paints or chemicals. Do not dump chemicals down gutter. Storm drains are for rain water only.
  6. Move downspouts so they flow rain water onto grassy or planted areas rather than hard surfaces.
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