CYPRESS : Drain-System Dumping Law Gets Initial OK


The City Council has given the first reading to a sweeping ordinance that prohibits dumping in the city’s storm drain system.

The council unanimously approved the first reading this month, and the second and final vote is scheduled at the council’s session Jan. 9. If passed, as expected, the ordinance would become law in early February.

City Public Works Director Mark Christoffels said the new ordinance is required to keep the city in line with federal law. The federal Clean Water Act prohibits local governments from dumping into drains that ultimately go to “federal waters,” or in this case, the Pacific Ocean. The federal law is designed to protect the ocean from being polluted by dumping that sometimes goes on in local draining systems.


For residents, the new ordinance would mean it would be illegal to wash anything down the gutter that feeds into city storm drains.

“Technically, the law prohibits anything but storm water from being in the drains,” Christoffels said.

But he added the city is unlikely to try to fine a homeowner if a few stray grass clippings fall into the gutter. “What we would do is go after some man who was hired to mow a yard and them tries to dump all the clippings into the storm drain,” Christoffels said.

Violation of the new ordinance would be a misdemeanor, and Christoffels said specific fines have yet to be established.

“The (new) ordinance has a broader focus than the (city’s) existing water pollution regulations,” Christoffels said. He added that all cities in Orange County are being required to adopt similar ordinances because all drainage in the county ultimately goes to the ocean.