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Our Waterways: How Can You Help?

Protect Our Waterways

Did you know it is illegal to put waste products, including landscape materials, into the street? That's because everything on the street washes into openings in the curb, into the storm drain system and flows directly into our waterways! Litter, grass clippings, paint, oil,dirt, and power washer wastewater and other waste products pollute the water flowing through Arvada, which is needed by others downstream. Please DO NOT blow or sweep grass clippings, leaves or any other landscaping materials into the street!

You Can Help!

Many people think that stormwater is treated or cleaned before it flows to our streams, so they routinely sweep grass clippings into the gutter or even the storm drains. If you have a neighbor who has made this part of their lawn care routine, please provide them with a link to this webpage or download the PDFs listed under resources. Once residents understand the importance of protecting our waterways, they are more likely to dispose of yard waste in a safe manner. Thank you!


Volunteer to pick up litter on a chosen route four or more times a year. The City posts a sign with your name on it.  Contracts are two years and can be extended for more. Visit Adopt-A-Street for more information.


The City of Arvada has 135 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails throughout the parks and open space. The Adopt-A-Trail program utilizes volunteers to assist the Parks Department in keeping Arvada beautiful. Visit Adopt-A-Trail for more information.


Your class or civic group can volunteer to place "No Dumping - Drains to Creek" medallions on storm drains. The medallions help communicate that storm drains should not be used to dispose of waste like paint, grass clippings, oil, or anything else generated in our neighborhoods. Call 720-898-7640 if you would like to set up a volunteer day to apply medallions.

Power Washing

Is power washing illegal? Power washing, also known as pressure washing, is not illegal, but there are restrictions on how the wash water is to be disposed. 

What are our responsibilities?  We are not allowed to contaminate another’s water supply and cities in Colorado are required to control the discharge of any potential contaminants that could end up in our storm drain. The dirty water that is left after power washing often contains mud, soap, dirt, metals, oil, grease and other pollutants. Federal, State and local regulations on how wash water can be disposed are designed to improve water quality in rivers and streams by reducing the amount of pollutants carried to downstream communities.

Do these restrictions apply only to businesses? Restrictions apply to businesses and individuals.      

What happens to the wash water when we wash things off outside? Wash water may fall on landscaping, or it may flow into the gutter where storm drains are located. Storm drains are the grates in the street and parking lots that drain rainwater and snowmelt away. 

Where do these drains lead to? These drains lead directly to our local waterways, without treatment, and eventually flow into Clear Creek and the South Platte River, which are used by downstream communities for irrigation and drinking water.

What should businesses be aware of when approached by local companies offering to conduct power washing? Businesses should be aware that power washers must capture wash water, collect it in containers, and dispose of it properly, such as into an interior drain or onto landscaping.

Who is responsible if a power washing company does not properly dispose of was water? If wash water and all of its pollutants flows into the storm sewer, the property owner could be liable for a violation of the City’s Ordinance and the federal Clean Water Act. There are many reputable local companies who have purchased the equipment needed to dispose of wash water legally and safely. Only hire those who are prepared.