Pollution Prevention

While the wastewater treatment plant effectively removes organic material from wastewater, it is not designed to remove most chemicals, metals and small plastics. So, when these items are sent down household drains, they pass through the system untreated and end up in the Napa River and eventually the Bay, where they may threaten sensitive aquatic life.

The best way to protect water quality and the environment is by preventing pollution before it happens. And prevention is a lot easier and less expensive than cleaning up after the fact! So we offer the following tips for residents and business owners help you start taking simple steps towards pollution prevention.  You can also check out our pollution prevention publications for more information.



toilet paper

Rethink what you flush.

Flush only toilet paper and human waste in the toilet. Dispose of other items in your regular trash. This includes baby wipes, hair, bandages, make-up pads, kitty litter, sanitary products, etc. You get the picture! Even products that are labeled “flushable” should not go down the drain – they can clog your pipes and sewage pump stations, damaging equipment and causing sewage overflows. Remember, the toilet is NOT a trash can!  A local television station shows us what happens when wipes and other items are flushed.



No FOG (Fat, Oil, Grease) down the drain!

FOG (Fat, Oil, Grease) can cause clogged sewer lines, leading to sewage overflows that contaminate our homes, streets and creeks.  Helping to prevent sewer overflows and back-ups is easy. Just follow the simple tips listed here!

 Never pour fats, oil or grease down the drain.
• Don’t put fatty food scraps down the garbage disposal.
• Collect fats and grease in a compostable container and dispose of them in your brown compost cart.
• Call Napa Recycling and Waste Services at 707-255-5200 to get a free 1-gallon cooking oil container that you can fill with your used cooking oil.  Once the container is full, call Napa Recycling or go to www.naparecycling.com to schedule a FREE curbside pick-up appointment.  You can also take used cooking oil (fat & grease can go too) to the Hazardous Waste Collection Facility or Devlin Road Reuse & Recycle Center. This service is also FREE.
• Dry wipe pots and pans containing grease with paper towels before washing, and then compost those paper towels.
• Scrape food scraps into your kitchen compost pail or your brown compost cart.  

FOG fry pan



restaurant plates


Managing FOG (Fats, Oil, Grease) for restaurants and food service facilities

 For restaurants and other food service facilities, dealing with FOG (Fats, Oil, Grease) is a part of everyday business. Improper management of FOG can lead to expensive sewage overflows and clean-ups, not to mention create serious public health issues.

All food service facilities can benefit from implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) for FOG. You can get started by reviewing the simple tips listed here. A NapaSan Inspector will also visit your facility regularly to evaluate your FOG management and provide guidance. Review the FOG Inspection Report Form to ensure that your food service facility will make the grade.



Household Hazardous Waste

Just because it’s a liquid doesn’t mean it should go down the drain. Household products like paint, solvent and pesticides can wreak havoc with processes at the wastewater treatment plant. To safely dispose of these products, take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.

What else must go to the Hazardous Waste Collection facility, rather than down the drain?
• Cooking oil
• Paints & solvents
• Automotive fluids (oil, gasoline, antifreeze, etc.)
• Medications  & sharps
• Polishes & cleaners
• Oven cleaners
• Drain openers
• Lighter fluids
• Pool chemicals
• Wood & metal cleaners
• Glues & cements

For a complete list of all the items accepted at the Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, check the Recycling Guide online or look under "Recycling" in your Yellow Pages for the full Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle Guide for Napa County.

paint cans


fever girl

Why worry about Mercury Thermometers?

Mercury is a highly toxic pollutant that can severely affect the central nervous system, impair hearing and speech, and cause blindness, paralysis or even death. People are most commonly exposed to mercury by way of broken fever thermometers. A typical thermometer contains about a gram of mercury – enough to make all the fish in it unsafe to eat!

Because thermometers are usually stored and used in the bathroom, when they break the mercury often gets washed down the drain. Unfortunately, mercury does not get removed in the wastewater treatment process.

To protect your family and the environment, the NapaSan will trade in your old mercury thermometer for a new digital thermometer. Call us at (707) 258-6000 for details.



Safe Disposal of Unneeded Medications

Is a plethora of pills cluttering your medicine cabinet? Unneeded or expired medications can accumulate and create a hazard for children and a temptation for teens. But don’t flush them away – even the most sophisticated wastewater treatment plant can’t remove pharmaceuticals. Instead, take them to Family Drug in Napa, Vasconi's Pharmacy in St. Helena, or the  Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. You’ll protect your family and water quality! PLEASE NOTE: No controlled substances are accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.

spill pills


Avoid the Beads

Plastic microbeads are showing up in many personal care products.  These small plastic beads pass through the water treatment process and und up in our rivers and bays.  They are consumed by fish and other wildlife, causing damaging and even making their way back into our own food cycle.  The microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can be also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.  


swimming pool

How to make your pool, spa or fountain “green”.

 Controlling algae in your pool, spa or fountain with a copper algaecide threatens aquatic life in our local waterways. Here are some ways to make your pool, spa or fountain “green”:
• Control algae with proper chlorine levels and regular cleaning
• Don’t drain your pool, spa or fountain to a street, gutter or storm drain.
• Call NapaSan at (707) 258-6000 to get a permit to drain your pool to the sanitary sewer.
• Spa or fountain water can be drained to a landscaped area.

For more ways to maintain your pool, spa or fountain and protect local waterways, check out our Maintenance Tips for Pools, Spas, and Fountains.


Disconnect your downspout and sump pumps

Napa gets about 24 inches of rain a year, and most of that falls during short storms with heavy rainfall. To channel that water off of their property quickly, some people connect their downspouts or sump pumps to the sanitary sewer. The problem with this drainage “solution” is that extra rainwater sent to the sanitary sewer during storms can overwhelm the sewage system. The resulting overflows cause raw sewage to run into streets and flow to creeks and the Napa River. This creates a health hazard for humans and wildlife alike. Plus connecting your downspouts or sump pump to the sewer is illegal!

Check to make sure that your downspouts or sump pump are draining to your yard or the gutter, never to the sewer. Here are some possibilities for keeping rainwater out of the sewer while protecting and enhancing your property.
• Direct your downspout to a lawn or landscaped area where water can soak into the soil.
• Direct your downspout to a rain garden. A rain garden is a shallow depression that collects rainwater and is often planted with native plants. Besides managing runoff on your property, a rain garden can also allow water to percolate into the groundwater and helps to filter out pollutants. Check here for more information on creating a rain garden. Check here for a list of plants, including natives, that work well in rain gardens.
• Install a rain barrel under your downspout to capture water for use when it’s dry. Here’s an overview on how to use rain barrels for water collection.
• Connect your downspouts and sump pump to the storm drain.

Think your downspout or sump pump might be connected to the sewer but don’t know how to check? Call us at (707) 258-6000 and we’ll come take a look and let you know.



Home & Garden

You can maintain your home and garden and still protect the health of your family, pets and the environment. Adopt less toxic, common sense techniques to managing pests, and when necessary, dispose of toxic products at the Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. For more information and resources for a less toxic home, visit Our Water, Our World.




green business logo

Shop Green Businesses

Do your part! By choosing Green Businesses you help to protect our environment, because Green Businesses prevent pollution, reduce waste, conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can search for Green Businesses in the Bay Area and throughout California on the California Green Business Program website. Learn about the Napa County Green business Program here.