Illicit Discharge FAQ's

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Frequently Asked Questions About Reporting Illicit Discharges and Spills Illicit Discharges and spills under the Municipal Stormwater NPDES Permits


Illicit Discharge 4Q: Illicit Discharges and spills under the Municipal Stormwater NPDES Permits What is an illicit discharge?

A: The municipal stormwater permits define an illicit discharge as discharge into the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) that is not composed entirely of stormwater. Illicit discharges may be deliberate or mistaken, direct or indirect. Generally, illicit discharges fit one of the following categories:

  1. Non-stormwater connections to the stormwater conveyance system including sewage and industrial wastewater.
  2. Non-stormwater illegal discharges, dumping and improper disposal, including:
    • Discharges from potable water sources, including water line flushing, hyper-chlorinated water line flushing, fire hydrant system flushing, and pipeline hydrostatic test water.
    • Discharges from lawn watering and other irritation runoff (except agricultural runoff).
    • Swimming pool water that has not been de-chlorinated, cleaning wastewater and filter backwash.
    • Street and sidewalk wash water, water used to control dust, and routine external building wash down,
    • Un-permitted de-watering water.
  3. Spills which must be cleaned up, are incidental and short-lived, and are of a substance that has the potential to compromise water quality.

Q: Under what conditions do the municipal storm water permits require specific notification and/or reporting?

A: Three kinds of situations require notification and reporting to California Emergency Management

  1. Illicit discharges into the M54 that present a severe or imminent threat to human health or the environment.
  2. Discharges from the M54 that may cause or contribute to an imminent threat to human health or the environment or that are causing or contributing to a violation of water quality standard.
  3. Illicit discharges that do not present severe or imminent threats to human health or the environment, and do not cause the MS4’s discharge to contribute to a violation of water quality standards.

Q. How do I report a spill into my MS4 that presents a severe or imminent threat to human health or the environment? (G3)

A: Immediately, but no later than 24 hours after obtaining the knowledge, contact the City of Cathedral City at the below given numbers:

Cathedral City Dispatch: (760) 770-0303
Cathedral City Public Works Division: (760) 729-9405

Please be prepared to answer the following questions or to leave this information for voice mail messages.

  • Time & Date
  • Location
  • Who caused the is discharge (name if possible)
  • What is being discharged (if able to identify)
  • Volume of Discharge
  • License of Vehicle, Vicinity of Discharge or Nearest Address. 
For all spills, we must retain records of the incident and associated response actions. The City must report that information in our Municipal Stormwater Annual Report and upon request.


To report all other stormwater incidents, please visit the Report Pollution page.