Maintaining the Flow

Central San uses 1,500 miles of sewer pipes and 19 pumping stations to transport sewage from about 160,000 homes and businesses to our treatment plant in Martinez. Here’s how we do it:

Don’t Flush Your Medications

Please don’t flush your drugs!

don't flush drugs

Flushing unwanted medications down a toilet, or pouring them down a drain, is a bad idea (no matter what you read on the Internet). Wastewater treatment plants, including ours, are designed primarily to treat biological wastes; they cannot remove all traces of the sophisticated chemical compounds found in today’s pharmaceuticals.

If you flush your drugs, you will pollute Suisun Bay.

Putting drugs in the trash isn’t a good idea, either. They might spill, be found by kids or animals, or be washed down storm drains and into local waters.

Here’s what to do instead

Instead of flushing or trashing unwanted medications (including pet medications and vitamins), bring them to a free drop-off site for safe disposal. Transfer pills to a sealable plastic bag before depositing them in the bin. Leave liquids in their bottles, but seal them in a bag to prevent leaks.

Please do not put sharps or anything other than medications in the container! A list of sharps disposal locations is here.

Pharmaceutical Drop-Off Sites in central Contra Costa County

Pharmaceutical disposal bin.
Pharmaceutical disposal bin.

Alamo: Sheriff’s Substation, 150 Alamo Plaza, Suite C.

Clayton: Police Dept., 6000 Heritage Trail.

Concord: Police Dept., 1350 Galindo St.

Danville:  Police Dept., 510 La Gonda Way.

Lafayette:  Police Dept., 3675 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 130.

• Police Dept., 525 Henrietta St.
• Sheriff’s Field Ops Bldg., 1980 Muir Rd.
• Contra Costa Regional Med. Center,
2500 Alhambra Ave.

Moraga: Police Dept., 329 Rheem Blvd.

Orinda: Police Dept., 22 Orinda Way

Pleasant Hill: Police Dept., 330 Civic Dr.

San Ramon: Police Dept., 2401 Crow Canyon Rd.

Walnut Creek: City Hall, 1666 North Main St.

NEW!  Walgreens stores now have collection kiosks for unwanted medications! Take advantage of their program in our area by visiting their Walnut Creek store at 2900 Main Street.

For more information about pharmaceutical disposal, please visit our website or call 1-800-646-1431.

Here’s a video where Central San Shift Supervisor Frank Favalora and Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho explain why flushing unwanted drugs is a bad idea:

Keep Pesticides Out of the Garden!

A mild-mannered Engineering Assistant by day, a Master Gardener by night (and weekends)… Earlene offers some helpful tips on how to have a beautiful, healthy garden without using toxic pesticides!

Small Device Prevents Big Problems

Although sewer backups and overflows are rare, they can cause a lot of damage, create a health risk, and be expensive to clean up. That’s why Central San has an ordinance requiring all homes and businesses in our service area to Overflow Protection Deviceshave an Overflow Protection Device. (If installation of the device is not practical, a property owner may apply for an exception.) You can read the ordinance here:

Most overflows are caused by clogs in private side-sewers/laterals, which are the pipes that connect a building’s plumbing to the public sewer. These pipes are the property owner’s responsibility. But overflows can also occur in the public sewer main, which are Central San’s responsibility.
Overflow Protection Device
Installing an Overflow Protection Device is the best way to prevent sewage from backing up into your home or business, regardless of whether the problem is in the public sewer main or a private lateral.

Note: The device will not help if a clog occurs between it and the building, so keep your pipes free of grease, wipes, and anything else that might cause a clog!

Because proper elevation and location are critical for the device to function properly, we recommend that it be installed by a licensed plumbing contractor.

If you already have a device, please keep it clear of obstructions such as dirt, plants, concrete, or anything else that might interfere with its operation. If you hire a gardener or landscaper, make sure they know this.

If an overflow occurs and there isn’t an Overflow Protection Device installed and properly maintained, the property owner may be responsible for resulting damages.

If you do not have this device yet, please have one installed right away. They are available at plumbing supply stores.

We can help you determine the best type of device for your home or business. Please call our Permit Counter staff at (925) 229-7371 for more information.

Wipes Clog Pipes!

Disposable wipes, even ones labeled as “flushable,” can clog your toilets or plumbing, and our sewers, pumps and treatment plant equipment. Please put them in the trash, not the toilet!

Disposable wipes are very popular. We get it. They’re convenient and easy to use. We’re not asking you to stop using them. We ARE asking you to stop flushing them.

Sure, they will usually disappear down the toilet if you flush them. But it’s what can happen NEXT that matters.

Disposable wipes are manufactured to be tougher than toilet paper.  They will not break down in water as quickly as toilet paper, and that’s why they cause problems. They get hung up on roots, grease, and other debris inside pipes and then cause clogs and sewage backups.

Wipes clog pipes
This nasty-looking mass of wipes was removed from a clogged pump.

They also clog our pumps and damage our treatment plant equipment; they must be manually removed and hauled to the local landfill. Please just give them the most direct route by putting them in your trash can, rather than the toilet.

As if the clogging potential wasn’t bad enough, many disposable wipes contain harsh cleaning chemicals and are made with plastic fibers that will pollute local waters when flushed.

Please dispose of wipes — even those labeled “flushable” — in the trash can, not the toilet.

Follow the Flow!

Ever wonder what happens to the stuff you flush down toilets and drains? (Hasn’t everyone?) This video tells all.