Silicon Valley Clean Water
The Silicon Valley Clean Water Pollution Prevention program is responsible for reducing pollutant wastewater discharge. Public education and outreach are the main tools sued to achieve this goal.
Pollution Prevention Specialist, Susan Hiestand
Direct Phone: (650) 832-6279
Sewer Science program is a 5-day wastewater treatment lab for high school students. This program is free to schools in the SVCW service area.
New! Distance learning on the Sewer Science web page here. Select one or more of the activities. We are also available to meet with classes or students via an online platform. Contact the Pollution Prevention Specialist for questions or to make an appointment.
Toilet and Non-Toilet Paper - A hands on experiment to learn how toilet paper and non-toilet paper, i.e. wipes, paper towels, tissues, behave when they are put in the sewers. Students learn never to flush anything but toilet paper, and how other materials cannot be treated in the wastewater process. Download project instructions here: Middle School-Toilet Paper Project.pdf.
This experiment is also appropriate for students Kindergarten through 5th Grades, and can be downloaded here:Elementary-Toilet Paper Project.pdf.
ZunZun Musical Presentation – SVCW funds the group ZunZun to do distance learning with elementary schools in the SVCW service area. Their interactive style involves the students in water cycle, stormwater, and wastewater education through song and dance. Presented in Spanish and English, ZunZun meets California State Content Standards in Science, Math, PE, and Fine Arts. Students learn about the importance of clean water and the difference between stormdrains and sewers, through music and movement. This activity is presented in a Google form with short videos followed by questions to ensure student comprehension. Email Susan for the link to the Google Form.
Where Does It Flow? Paper Stormwater Model: YouTube video activity
Triclosan is an antibacterial agent found in soaps and toothpaste. Concentrations of triclosan present in wastewater can destabilize the microbial communities that help treat sewage solids. Triclosan is intended to disrupt microbes in our homes, and it can have similar impacts in treatment plants. Triclosan that passes through wastewater treatment plants is also acutely toxic to certain types of aquatic organisms.
Plastic microbeads are used in personal care products are ending up in our waterways. These tiny plastic beads do not biodegrade, but drifting through waterways they absorb hydrocarbon pollutants and become even more toxic. On May 22, 2015 the CA Assembly passed AB888 to ban microbeads in personal care products. If the Senate approves the bill, the law will go into effect January 2020.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that will expand the County’s medicine collection program, helping to keep residents and our water safe. The ordinance will go into effect in 2015 and by 2016 there should be expanded pharmaceutical take back locations. Currently pharmaceutical disposal is available at these locations at Sheriff and police stations throughout the county.
Pesticides can get into wastewater through various paths and are not treated by our treatment systems, potentially ending up in the Bay. Choose less toxic pest control whenever you need to control pests in your home or on your pets. Our Water Our World is a rich resource for less toxic solutions.
The toilet is not a trash can. It may be convenient to dispose of used baby wipes, paper towels, condoms, and feminine hygiene products by flushing them down the toilet. But those and other items (even if labeled as “flushable”) can clog sewer pipes, damage pumps and other treatment plant equipment, and contribute to water pollution.
Please flush only human waste and toilet paper. Put everything else in the trash can.
See what happens when so called "flushable" wipes meet a real-world sewer main in the video below.
The Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group (BAPPG), a committee of the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies (BACWA), does Bay Area wide work to prevent pollution of the bay and the environment. Check out the website Baywise.org for pollution prevention information.