Vehicle Maintenance & Washing

Any drips from your vehicles, or any spills that occur when performing maintenance on your vehicles at home, have the potential to enter the storm sewer system and contaminate our river and creeks. Spills and drips should be cleaned up immediately. 

Washing your vehicle at home can send detergents, oil and grease into the street and then into the storm sewer system to the river. Try to use a commercial car wash whenever possible. If you do wash your vehicle at home, use biodegradable products and wash it on the lawn or an area where the wash water can soak into the ground.

General Tips

Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids by taking them to your local car parts dealers.

Never, ever dump automotive fluids down a storm drain!


Powerwashing of parking lots, sidewalks and buildings is prohibited in Cañon City, unless all washwater is captured on site and disposed of properly (i.e. in the sanitary sewer). Reference the resources below:

Parking Lots

Local businesses can have a significant impact on the quality of stormwater runoff. They also have the opportunity to provide examples of good stewardship for protecting and improving local water quality. Asphalt and concrete parking lots are impervious surfaces in that they don’t allow rain or snowmelt to soak into the ground. They collect potential pollutants such as trash, automotive fluids from vehicles that have drips and leaks, and trace metals and hydrocarbons from the brakes, tires and exhausts of vehicles.

Sediment can be deposited from vehicles’ tires and gravel and other chemicals can be left over from snow and ice control. All of these are then concentrated in stormwater runoff which enters the storm sewer system and is carried directly to the Arkansas River without treatment.

What You Can Do

Make sure to keep your parking areas and sidewalks clean by picking up litter and sweeping up sediment and gravel. Use an absorbent material such as cat litter to soak up oil and other automotive fluids. Sweep up the absorbent and place in the garbage dumpster.

Parking and landscaped areas can be redesigned to include stormwater management features such as rain gardens, grass swales, vegetated filter strips, disconnected pavement or porous pavement. Consider installing features such as underground oil/water separators and sand filters. See the Environmental Protection Agency's Low Impact Development page for more ideas.

Fun Fact

Did you know that 4 quarts of oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of water if it gets to the river?



Pet waste can be a significant source of bacteria and nutrients in our river and creeks as well as being smelly and unsightly! Be a good neighbor and keep your pets’ area clean to reduce odor and potential health problems. When walking your dog, clean up any messes it may leave behind and place the waste in a garbage container. View the Pet Waste and Water Quality (PDF) for more information.

Yard & Garden

Excess fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can wash down a storm drain and pollute our river and creeks. Use these chemicals sparingly and according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Do not apply them when rain is predicted and don’t overwater your lawn. Try to use organic mulch or safer pest control methods when possible.

Yard Waste

Don’t place grass, yard clippings, branches or other yard waste in the gutter. These can be washed down a storm drain and put excess nutrients into our waterways. Consider composting or mulching yard waste. Or sweep up the clippings and place in the garbage for collection. 

If at all possible, don’t store landscaping materials in the street. Keep piles of dirt, rock or mulch covered when not in use. You can place straw wattles around the edge of the pile to keep sediment from being washed into the storm drains.

Improve Your Yard

Consider xeriscaping your yard, planting a rain garden or re-directing your downspouts so they drain onto your lawn. For more information, see the following links:

Irrigation Ditches, Laterals & Roadside Drainages

Never throw any type of trash, left over food, garden and yard waste or pet and animal waste into any of the irrigation ditches which criss-cross Cañon City. Do not empty left over chemicals into ditches and do not pile debris, etc. on the banks. This water is used for crop and yard irrigation; anything in the water can end up on fields and gardens. The irrigation water is also returned to the Arkansas River so any contaminants which get in the irrigation ditches eventually will end up in the river.

Title 19 Drainage

Title 19.10 Drainage, Chapter 19.10.050 Curbs and Gutters states that:

  • All occupants/owners are required to keep the private culverts and ditches for drainage and/or irrigation that may extend along any roadway between the center of such roadway and the property occupied by them clear of all obstructions to the free flow of water therein.
  • It shall be unlawful for any person to cause obstruction of the free flow of water within public culverts.

This means that property owners are responsible for keeping the drainage ditches and irrigation laterals which run along their property clear of trash, debris and excess vegetation. By keeping these ditches clean, property owners are also helping improve water quality since stormwater also flows along these ditches.