Allowable Discharges

Some activities that discharge pollutants are not regulated by federal, state, or local policies. These activities may be conducted using best management practices (BMPs) that prevent or reduce pollutants that may flow to creeks, channels, and the ocean.

Below is a list of the allowable discharges. These types of discharges may look and smell like potable water.

  • Air conditioning condensation discharge
  • De-chlorinated swimming pool discharge
  • Diverted stream flow discharge
  • Flows from riparian habitats and wetland discharge
  • Footing drain discharge
  • Fountain drain discharge
  • Individual residential car washing discharges
  • Irrigation water discharge (potable)
  • Lawn watering discharge
  • Rising groundwater discharge
  • Uncontaminated groundwater infiltration discharge
  • Uncontaminated pumped groundwater discharge
  • Water from crawl space pumps
  • Water line flushing

Illegal Discharges 

Illegal discharge is the unauthorized entry of runoff into a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). The discharge can be either direct (e.g. wastewater pipe connected to a storm drain) or indirect (e.g. infiltration by cracked sanitary systems, spills, or paint or oil dumped directly into a drain). Discharges that enter the MS4 are not treated and flows directly to our waterways picking up pollutants along the way. Pollutants can include heavy metals (i.e. copper, lead, and zinc), oil and grease, solvents, nutrients (i.e. fertilizer), and pathogens (i.e. viruses and bacteria). According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), illegal discharge can decrease water quality and be harmful to aquatic, wildlife and human health.

Sources of illegal discharge can include:

  • Leaking septic tanks
  • Commercial car wash wastewater
  • Improper oil disposal
  • Improper disposal of radiator flushing fluid
  • Improper disposal of carpet or fabric-cleaning wastewater
  • Spills from roadway accidents
  • Improper disposal of auto and household solvents
  • Over-irrigation

These activities may occur if the activity is conducted in a manner that results in no runoff or pollutants entering the drainage system (i.e. using Best Management Practices). For example, residents may wash down their driveways and sidewalks if they complete the activity in a manner that captures or diverts the water they use so that it does not drain into the streets and storm drains. This may be accomplished by using best management practices such as sweeping the driveway and sidewalk of all debris and putting it in the trash. Then, while using a hose nozzle, lightly spray the driveway and sidewalk away from the gutter onto the lawn or into a planter area. Or, just sweep the driveway and sidewalk, no water is necessary.

Reporting Spills


For all emergencies, dial 911.

Citizen cooperation is vital for an effective stormwater program. Likewise, people on the streets are key to timely enforcement. If you suspect an emergency, always call 911. In a situation where you observe a discharge that you are uncertain about, but should probably be investigated, there are several points for reporting.

Non-Hazardous Issue

If you observe a non-hazardous discharge during normal business hours, please contact the Public Works Department at 714-993-8148.

If you observe discharges into the storm drains during non-business hours, please call Placentia dispatch at 714-993-8164.


As an alternative, the County of Orange also has a water pollution reporting hotline available 24 hours a day to report illegal dumping, illegal discharges into storm drains, or pollution spills. Please call 877-89-SPILL to report such issues.