Keep Your Car and Waterways Running CLEAN!

Published on August 16, 2023

Photograph of a person tightening a cap on a vehicle's engine

Fluids from vehicles like oil, antifreeze, and many others that leak onto your driveway or street can all be carried by stormwater to the nearest river, lake, or stream when it rains. Small oil leaks, and other vehicle fluids, can add up to a BIG problem for our waterways.

A single quart of motor oil can contaminate up to 250,000 gallons of drinking water. Other fluids can result in pollution that creates public health and environmental safety risks. Even small spills can harm the environment and our community. If we want to keep our water clean, the solution starts with YOU!

Here are some of the ways you can avoid polluting our local waterways when working on your vehicle:

  • Never dispose of vehicle fluids into a storm drain or drainage ditch. Recycle oil and other fluids. One place to do this is at the Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Events. For more information on upcoming events, visit
  • Be sure to store any automotive fluids, new or used, under cover and in secondary containment to catch any leaks.
  • Inspect and maintain your car regularly to prevent oil, coolant, and other vehicle fluid leaks.
  • Perform maintenance on a flat concrete surface where spills can easily be cleaned up.
  • Place a tarp, ground cloth, sheet of plywood, cardboard, or newspaper under a vehicle to capture any leaks or spills.
  • Always use a funnel when pouring liquids to avoid spills.
  • Use a drip pan under a vehicle when changing fluids, unscrewing filters, and removing other parts that might leak.
  • Immediately clean up vehicle fluid spills with rags or other absorbent materials such as kitty litter, sawdust, or oil absorbent.
  • Wash vehicles at the car wash, not on your driveway or the street. Car washes have oil/water separators that help recycle wash water. If you wash your vehicle at home, do it in a grassy area.

Please remember to NEVER put any automotive fluids down any storm sewer drain or into any body of water. Even a small amount of automotive fluid in our waterways can harm a large amount of drinking water. For more information on ways to help prevent water pollution, visit the Stormwater Quality Program webpage.

To report improper disposal of automotive fluids or other pollutants, contact Public Works’ Stormwater team by calling 3-1-1.