Who to contact

TOURS: 650-329-2396
PERMITS: 650-329-2122

Report hazardous spills, illegal dumping, storm drain blockages, sanitary sewer backups or overflows in your community.

Click for more info

Not finding what you need?
Call the City of Palo Alto Public Works - Watershed Protection at 650-329-2122 or email cleanbay@cityofpaloalto.org.

Our Programs

MAP & Directions

To the City of Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant and the Household Hazardous Waste Station.

Click for more info

Business & Industrial

The City of Palo Alto Public Works-Industrial Waste permits and inspects the industrial waste discharge activities of industries and commercial dischargers located in the East Palo Alto Sanitary District, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and Stanford University. The City of Mountain View issues permits and regulates dischargers in its city. Regulated businesses throughout the Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) service area include restaurants, photo processors, dentists, automotive service facilities, industrial dischargers, businesses handling contaminated ground water and machine shops.

Quick Information

» ReThink Disposable (for Food Service Establishments)
» Report spills, illegal dumping, and back-ups
» Industrial Waste Permitting
» Hauled Liquid Waste Discharge Permit
» Commercial Pollution Prevention Best Management Practices (various)
» Food Service Establishments (Palo Alto)
» Automotive Facility Best Management Practices
» Dentists and Amalgam Management (Palo Alto)
» City of Palo Alto Sewer Use Ordinance
» Polystyrene Restriction Ordinance (Palo Alto)
» Single-use Checkout Bag Ordinance (Palo Alto)


Accidental spills or illegal dumping of industrial or household pollutants near storm drains can harm sensitive creek ecosystems and storm drain blockages can lead to street flooding. Sewer blockages can result in expensive sewer line repairs and overflows of wastewater and pollutants into neighborhoods and creeks. Report spills, dumping or backups in your community. Click here for more info.

Regional Water Quality Control Plant–Industrial Waste Permitting

The RWQCP Industrial Waste Program works with industrial and commercial facilities in the RWQCP service area to prevent the release of industrial pollutants to the Bay or local creeks via the sanitary sewer system or stormdrains. The Industrial Waste Program permits and inspects industrial and commercial facilities and reviews plans for:

  • New facilities
  • Remodels
  • Spec buildings
  • Buildings with elevators with discharge lines
  • Facilities with hazardous waste materials storage or use
  • Commercial facilities with discharges
  • Food service facilities
  • Loading docks
  • Cooling towers
  • Buildings with proposed high water use
  • Automotive facilities
  • Dry cleaners
  • Medical offices
  • Dental offices
  • Laboratories
  • Photo shops
  • Large multi-use residential projects
  • Projects with underground parking
  • Projects with swimming pools (other than single-family)

How do I get a permit? Contact the City of Palo Alto Public Works-Industrial Waste Program at 650-329-2122, or email cleanbay@cityofpaloalto.org for a permit application to discharge process water to the sanitary sewer from an industrial facility, photo processor using silver, or from auto shops that use wash racks or floor drains. Dentists must file an annual self-certification but do not require a permit at this time.

Exceptional Wastewater Discharge permits are required for any discharges to the sanitary sewer from dewatering, sewer line flushing, decontamination, or similar activities.


The RWQCP accepts hauled liquid waste such as septic tank waste, portable toilet pumpings and grease control device (GCD) waste from the RWQCP service area of East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View and Stanford University. Exceptions to service area restrictions must be approved in advance by the RWQCP Plant Manager.

To apply for a permit, complete and sign the Hauled Liquid Waste Discharge Permit Application and submit with the required permit fees and information outlined in the application. Permit information may be submitted in person or by mail to:

City of Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant
Administration Building
2501 Embarcadero Way
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Attention: Hauled Liquid Waste Discharge Permit

Hazardous materials are not permitted for disposal. For more information, contact the RWQCP at 650-329- 2598.

Commercial Pollution Prevention Best Management Practices


All Food Service Establishments (FSEs) must comply with Palo Alto Municipal Code (PAMC) Section 16.09.075 which contains specific requirements applicable to FSEs. For assistance interpreting the code, meeting the requirements, or help sizing and selecting a Grease Control Device (GCD) call the Regional Water Quality Control Plant at 650-329-2122.

Automotive Facilities

Oils, dissolved metals found in vehicle fluids and cleaning wastes, cleaning solvents and soaps easily reach storm drains or sanitary sewers and cause water pollution. Automotive facilities are required to participate in the Clean Bay Business Program which inspects for compliance with best management practices. Clean Bay Business vehicle service shops and car washes minimize waste and keep pollutants out of storm drains and sewer lines. Each year, the RWQCP inspects vehicle service shops and car washes to ensure that Clean Bay Business standards are met. Clean Bay Businesses are recognized by the City in annual local advertisements. To meet Clean Bay Business requirements, vehicle service shop must:

  • Close all floor drains and sumps inside the shop
  • Minimize water use when cleaning floors
  • Catch leaks and spills promptly and use "dry" cleanup methods
  • Keep wash water, soap, oil and grease away from storm drains
  • Store batteries and hazardous substances safely
  • Reuse or recycle vehicle fluids whenever possible

Amalgam Management Requirements for Dental Practices

San Francisco Bay is impaired due to high levels of mercury in fish, water and Bay sediment. To reduce mercury loadings to the Bay, dental practices that remove or place amalgam fillings must use approved amalgam best management practices and install an amalgam separator. These requirements have reduced the amount of mercury entering the Bay from the RWQCP wastewater effluent by more than 50%. Compliant dental offices:

  • Follow all amalgam management requirements.
  • Train staff in the proper handling and disposal of amalgam materials and fixer-containing solutions; training records must be available for inspection.
  • Install an approved amalgam separator that will remove up to 95% of the amalgam particles
  • Store amalgam waste in accordance with recycler or hauler instructions
  • Do not rinse chairside traps, vacuum screens, or amalgam separator equipment in a sink or other sanitary sewer connection.
  • Do not use bleach or other chlorine-containing disinfectants to disinfect the vacuum line system.
  • Do not use bulk liquid mercury; only precapsulated dental amalgam is permitted.
  • Find additional dental office resources

ReThink Disposable

Do you have your own restaurant, café, or food related business? Want to save money and let your customers know that you're doing your part to help keep the environment clean?

Partner up with ReThink Disposable, a FREE program provided by the City of Palo Alto–Watershed Protection and the Clean Water Action Fund. ReThink Disposable helps restaurants reduce waste and cut costs by minimizing disposable packaging items. Sign up today!