Reporting Spills and Water Pollution

Picture of a storm drainIt rains a lot here in Pierce County. That rain water falls on our roofs and hits our pavements, picking up everything it touches on its way into creeks and lakes. That means the oil from your vehicle, the chemicals from your yard waste and even Fido's poo - it all ends up in Puget Sound.


Unlike our household wastewater, this water gets little to no treatment before it hits our water bodies. That pollution can be highly toxic to our wildlife like salmon and orcas, not to mention a health hazard for those of us who like to play on the water. 


We all have an important role to play in keeping nasty stuff out of our waterways. That's why it's important to know how to identify potential pollution hazards and learn what to do if you believe someone is dumping or discharging illicit material into our stormwater system.

Report an Illicit Discharge


Any pollution introduced to our stormwater system is an illicit discharge. If you see something, please report it immediately using SeeClickFix.


What is an illicit discharge?

When rainfall flows over roads, sidewalks, driveways, and yards, it picks up chemicals, oils, grease, car wash soap and bacteria from animal waIllicit discharge oil sheenste. This contaminated stormwater goes down storm drains and into ditches across Pierce County and empties directly into streams, rivers and lakes, ending up in Puget Sound. Any pollution introduced to our stormwater system is termed an “illicit discharge."  


Some of the most common illicit discharges we respond to are diesel and gas, paint, trash, pet waste, runoff from power washing or car washing, yard chemicals and pesticides, or water from pools and hot tubs. These are just a few things we see often, but remember, anything that isn't stormwater is considered illicit discharge and should not flow into our storm drains.


A few common signs of illicit discharges are:

  • People dumping liquids, animal waste, or yard waste into a storm drain
  • Hoses or pipes running toward or into a storm drain
  • Stains, damage, or trash surrounding storm drains
  • Oil sheen, foam or strange colored water near an outfall

How to report an illicit discharge

Polluted runoff can be a serious health risk and significant environmental threat to our waterways, habitat and wildlife, so it's important to report it as soon as possible. Pierce County Surface Water Management will respond to issues in areas of unincorporated Pierce County. If the problem you are reporting is within an incorporated city or town, call that jurisdiction to alert them.


To report an illicit discharge, use the SeeClickFix mobile app or our online portal at piercecountywa.gov/works, filing your request under the "spills and pollution release" category, or call 253-798-6000.

Watch: Reporting spills and water pollution in Pierce County