City of Poway

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What’s the Problem with Fire Sprinkler Flushing?

As you may know, the California Code of Regulations (Title 19, Chapter 5, Article 4) requires that automatic fire sprinkler systems be serviced every five years. This process may involve draining and flushing the water from the pipes. Unfortunately, the water flushed from the pipes is stagnant and stale, and may contain bacteria and pollutants such as metals leached into the water from the sprinkler system.

When this water is flushed from the sprinklers, it is generally discharged directly from the building and onto the parking lot, where it may flow into the storm drain system and/or receiving waters such as a creek or lake.

The City of Poway is required per Municipal Permit 2007-0001 from the State Water Resources Control Board to prohibit discharges to storm drains and receiving waters, as well as to manage water quality. The City is also required per the Jurisdictional Urban Runoff Management Program to prohibit pollutant discharges to a storm drain conveyance system. In addition, the Poway Municipal Code, Section 13.09.020, also prohibits non-storm water discharges.

Legally, Only Storm Water May Enter the Storm Drain System

When water is discharged directly from the fire sprinkler system and flows along the parking lot, it picks up urban pollution, such as oil, grease, sediment, trash, brake dust, etc., which will flow with it into the storm drain system.

Did you know that storm drains are NOT connected to sanitary sewer systems or treatment plants? The primary purpose of storm drains is to carry rainwater away from developed areas to prevent flooding. Disposing of materials into storm drains, either directly or indirectly, causes serious ecological problems — and is PROHIBITED by law.

2 Underground Systems

What Does This Mean to Me?

This means that industrial and commercial businesses must not allow the water released during a 5-year Fire Sprinkler Certification to flow into the storm drain system and/or receiving waters such as a creek or lake, nor should it drain into the sewer system.

How Can I Comply?

You can comply by ensuring that your business does not discharge this water into the storm drain or sewer system.

One way to comply could be contacting a waste management disposal company that, for a fee, will contain the water and discharge it to a legal discharge station. The City of Poway does not recommend or endorse any specific company, nor does it charge any additional fees.

There may be other solutions, and the City is open to other ideas that still maintain compliance. Please call (858) 668-4653 if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Thank You!

Thank you for your assistance with this program to conserve Poway’s natural resources and protect our creeks, lakes, and ocean for future generations.

Who Can I Contact?

For more information, please call (858) 668-4653

Report Illegal Dumping to:

Poway Code Compliance (during business hours) at (858) 668-4663 or (858) 668-4664, press “0” for immediate assistance


Poway Sheriff’s Station (after business hours) at (858) 513-2800

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Last updated: 11/16/2010 11:15:10 AM