Who to contact
Report hazardous spills, illegal dumping, storm drain blockages, sanitary sewer backups or overflows in your community.
Not finding what you need?
Call the City of Palo Alto Public Works - Watershed Protection at 650-329-2122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See how the RWQCP treats 20 million gallons of wastewater every day to protect San Francisco Bay.
MAP & Directions
To the City of Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant and the Household Hazardous Waste Station.
What's the latest
ReThink Disposable: FREE program for food businesses to save money and reduce waste and increase efficiency!
Learn more on how your business can participate.
Find a disposal site near you.
Palo Alto takes new steps to reduce cigarette butt pollution and improve public health.
Restrictions on the sale of plastic foam began March 1, 2016 to reduce creek litter.
Check out our infographic to see a map of where your water travels after its used.
» Report hazardous spills, illegal dumping, storm drain blockages, sanitary sewer backups or overflows in your community
» About the Regional Water Quality Control Plant
» Smoking ordinance changes
» New plastic foam ordinance protects creeks
The Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) protects San Francisco Bay by treating wastewater from its service area and works with residents, industry and businesses to prevent pollution before it starts. The RWQCP is owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto and serves its partner communities of the East Palo Alto Sanitary District, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Stanford University.
Check out the two art pieces that Artist Martin Webb created for the RWQCP!
Stormwater is defined by the US EPA as the runoff generated when precipitation from rain or snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces without infiltrating into the ground.
In natural systems— when rainwater falls onto the ground, it infiltrates into the soil where it is then stored in underground aquifers. However, urban areas today have many paved surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and building rooftops, that prevent this infiltration and causes runoff. The runoff picks up pollutants along these paved surfaces as it flows into storm drains, which directs them into creeks and the San Francisco Bay. Storm drains are separate systems from sanitary sewers and flow into our watershed without any treatment. There are four primary watersheds in Palo Alto (San Francisquito, Matadero, Barron, and Adobe). See a map of storm drain watersheds within the City of Palo Alto.
During heavy rainfall, excess runoff causes flooding to occur. Learn more about the City’s Stormwater Management Fee for flood protection, creek maintenance and more services. Want to learn more on how you can live in a creek friendly neighborhood? Get tips on green storm water features like rain gardens and rain barrels. Visit Green Streets for more information. Rebates are also available for installing rain barrels, permeable pavement, rain catchment cisterns, and green roofs. These beautiful and practical home improvements filter pollution and reduce stormwater runoff.
The City of Palo Alto recently took additional steps to protect public health and reduce litter by expanding the City's Smoking Ordinance. The revised ordinance prohibits smoking in multi-family housing (inside, common areas and buffer areas or sidewalks) and places restrictions on the sale of tobacco products. Smoking restrictions remain for outdoor commercial areas, outdoor dining areas, public events, work sites and service locations.
On March 1, 2016 revisions to a 2009 City of Palo Alto ordinance went into effect to further reduce litter from expanded plastic foam products (e.g., Styrofoam™). The ordinance prohibits both the retail sale and distribution of plastic foam ice chests, egg cartons, packaging materials and foodware. This measure is one of several to reduce litter in creeks, streets, and the Bay. Learn more.