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Commercial/Industrial Business Compliance

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When it rains, many of the pollutants that lurk on our streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and gutters wash down storm drains and into the nearest body of water. Vista is home to three main watersheds: Agua Hedionda Creek, Buena Vista Creek, and the San Luis Rey River. Unfortunately, storm drains do not filter water or debris, nor are they connected to the sanitary sewer system. Any pollutant that flows into a storm drain ends up on our creeks and rivers, then ultimately out to the ocean. Urban runoff pollutants come from many different sources, such as leaking cars, pet waste, chemicals, building materials, vegetative waste, litter, dirt, and sediments. The good news is that urban runoff pollution is preventable! As Vista business owners and residents, we simply need to work together to change a few habits to benefit our health, our families, our environment, our economy, and our community. Remember, every bit of pollution hurts.

Polluting Activities

Your business may be contributing to water pollution, and not even know it! Some businesses daily activities can contribute pollutants into our storm drains. Below is an explanation of some common activities that can contribute to water quality degradation of our creeks, rivers, lakes, lagoons, and ocean.

Wet Cleaning

Wash water used to clean equipment, indoor and outdoor areas, parking lots, and sidewalks send pollutants like bacteria, dirt, chemicals, oil, and litter to our gutters and storm drains.


Buildings with blocked or cracked laterals, leaking pipes and faulty sprinkler systems contribute bacteria to our storm drains.


Overflowing trash and dumpster areas contribute litter and debris to our local waterbodies. Not only are ill-maintained trash areas a health and safety violation, but the litter pollutes our water with harmful chemicals, and can clog gutters causing street flooding.


Spills and leaks of hazardous chemicals into the sidewalk, gutter, street and storm drain pose may health risks for beach users and contaminate the environment. Chemicals include any oil-based products, toxics, flammable substances and corrosives.

Building Materials

If materials used for any building maintenance or improvement project are washed down the sidewalk, gutter or street, pollutants such as sediments and chemicals can enter a storm drain and pollute our water.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

While the activities for each of our businesses may differ, the following is a list of the practices that all businesses must implement. Contact the Water Quality Protection Program for more details about your business-specific requirements.

Keep your trash and dumpster lids closed. Do not place liquid waste in dumpsters. If dumpsters are leaking or in need of repair, contact
your hauler. Make sure to absorb, sweep and remove leaks.

It is illegal to allow landscaping waste, pet waste, dirt, chemicals or other pollutants to enter a storm drain or be thrown into a creek bed.

All dirt slopes must have erosion control measures in place to protect dirt from entering the street or storm drain.

Wash water used to clean equipment, indoor and outdoor areas, parking lots and sidewalks is prohibited from entering the storm drain. Try sweeping instead. If you must use water, either mop the area or make sure the waste water is fully reclaimed and disposed appropriately.

All chemicals must be properly labeled and stored in a contained, roofed area to avoid contact with rain water.

Do not over-irrigate your landscaping. Irrigation runoff not only contributes pollutants to our storm drains, but is a public nuisance and safety hazard.

Sewage releases into the street from blocked or cracked laterals are illegal. If a spill occurs, arrange for correction and contact the City immediately.

For more information on BMPs required by the City, please refer to the Stormwater Standards Manual.


In order to ensure businesses comply with the City of Vista’s Municipal Ordinance regarding urban runoff pollution prevention (Chapter 13.18), businesses with the highest potential to contribute pollutants to urban runoff are subject to yearly inspections by the City of Vista. Identified businesses are sent a letter informing the owner and/or manager of the upcoming inspections.

Businesses typically identified for yearly inspection include: manufacturing, warehousing and distributing, industrial facilities, restaurants, automotive repair facilities, gas stations, nurseries, equipment rental and repair, golf courses, and businesses where violations have been noted. All businesses are required to correct any deficiencies or violations noted as a result of an inspection.

For more information about the inspection process, or to see if your business is subject to yearly inspections, please call the City of Vista Water Quality Protection Program.

Educational Literature

City of Vista, in conjunction with many other Cities in North San Diego County, has produced factsheets and posters to help businesses understand the types of Best Management Practices to use in preventing, controlling, and treating storm water pollution. You can download examples of these tools, or call 760-726-1340 x1375 to request an original copy.

Restaurant BMP poster - this poster is originally 11in x17in. The copy available on this website is only 8.5x11 to keep downloading times faster.

Green Wrench Guide - this booklet is designed to assist autmotive repair shops in understanding and implementing environmental Best Management Practices.

Automotive BMP poster - this poster is originally 36in x 24in. The copy available on this website is only 8.5x11 to keep downloading times faster.

BMP check-off list - this checklist is designed to be a short and handy tool to verfiy whether or not your business is implementing the most basic of BMPs.

Industrial NPDES Permit

The California State Water Resources Control Board has identified specific industrial businesses as presenting a high threat to storm water pollution based on the types of activities and materials used and/or generated. These high priority industrial businesses are required to obtain coverage under the California National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for Industrial Activities. Industrial businesses subject to these requirements are mandated to: develop and implement a Storwater Pollution Prevention Plan, pay an annual permitting fee, install and maintain Best Management Practices, and implement a storm water monitoring program. To find out if your business is subject to these permit conditions, please look for your SIC code or activities here. If you are unfamiliar with the term SIC, or Standard Industrial Classification, you may want to educate yourself about these codes. SIC codes are heavily used by government regulatory agencies in identifying businesses subject to various requirements.

However, some businesses may be exempt from this permitting requirement if their activities are completely indoors or are only conditionally subject to the NPDES permit requirements. If you feel your business may be exempt, please contact the Vista Water Quality Protection Program for more information. Be sure that your business can positively say "no" to each of the catergories listed in the attached "No Exposure Certification."

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