The greatest threat to local creek and San Francisco Bay water quality comes from pollutants entering these waterways through storm drain systems. Pollutants such as automotive fluids, paints, car and equipment wash water, sediment, cement and mortar slurries, pesticides, trash and pet waste find their way into street gutters and storm drain inlets. These and other substances contribute to fish consumption advisories, beach closures, and loss of aquatic habitat productivity.
Understanding the difference between sanitary sewer drains and storm drains is key to understanding the water pollution problem. Indoor waste drains are connected to a network of sewer lines that flow into a wastewater treatment plant, where the waste is treated to high degree before it is recycled or discharged to the San Francisco Bay. Outdoor drainage, on the other hand, typically flows directly into the nearest creek or waterway, without treatment of any kind. Anywhere rain comes into contact with a pollutant source can be a potential source of urban runoff pollution.
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) requires that Bay Area cities and counties conduct sanitary sewer and urban runoff pollution prevention programs in order to minimize the release of substances into the environment that pose a significant threat, either individually or cumulatively, to local creeks and San Francisco Bay. These requirements are conveyed to the city of Livermore in its permit to operate the Livermore Water Reclamation Plant, and in the municipal stormwater permit issued to the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program. Along with Alameda County, Zone 7 Water Agency, and 13 other cities in the county, the city of Livermore is part of a regional approach to preventing water pollution. More information about the regional program can be found at Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program.