Illicit Discharge

Bottom of paint cans


Illicit Discharge 

Leon County’s water quality is vulnerable to pollution and contaminates making their way through our stormwater system. Ultimately, these contaminates gain direct access into our lakes, rivers and streams and impact aquatic species, wildlife and human health.

Illicit discharge is the unauthorized entry of runoff into a municipal separate storm sewer system. The discharges that enter the sewer system are not treated and flow directly into our waterways, picking up pollutants along the way. Pollutants can include heavy metals, oil and grease, solvents, fertilizers and harmful pathogens. Illicit discharges can happen directly, like a wastewater pipe connected to a storm drain, or indirectly, like infiltration by cracked sanitary systems, spills, paint or oil dumped directly into a drain.

Sources of illicit discharge include:

  • Leaking septic tanks;
  • Commercial car wash wastewater;
  • Improper oil disposal;
  • Improper disposal of radiator flushing fluid;
  • Improper disposal of carpet or fabric cleaning wastewater;
  • Spills from roadway accidents;
  • Improper disposal of auto and household solvents; and
  • Fertilizer runoff

How Leon County Addresses Illicit Discharge Activities

Leon County contracts with the City of Tallahassee to inspect identified high risk businesses to ensure proper management of hazardous materials at each site. In addition, any reported illicit discharge is investigated to verify the nature of the discharge and pursue cleanup. Depending on what is found, a Notice of Violation(s) can be issued and mitigation plans are developed to clean up the problem if necessary.

Leon County also operates its Hazardous Waste Center, which serves as a one-stop location for household hazardous waste and electronics disposal. Hazardous waste can be flammable, corrosive, reactive or toxic and poses a threat to human health and the environment if not disposed of properly. The center accepts items free of charge for all Leon County households. In the last fiscal year, the Hazardous Waste Center processed 438 tons of potentially hazardous material from 18,000 residents, of which 236 tons (54%) were recycled or reused. 

Acceptable Items Include:

  • Household items (aerosols, nail polish/remover, hair color, spot remover and fluorescent bulbs);
  • Electronics (phones, printers/ink cartridges, computers, TVs, fax machines, cables, modems, stereos and radios);
  • Cleaners (oven/drain cleaners, floor-care products, ammonia, polishes and removers)
  • Garage (oil, gas, antifreeze, brake fluids, transmission fluids, paint, glue, pool chemicals and herbicides/insecticides)
  • Batteries (Alkaline, rechargeable, watch and car batteries) 

The Center Does NOT Accept:

  • Styrofoam
  • Medical Waste
  • Radioactive Waste 

Sharps (needles and lancets) containers are available at the Florida Department of Health in Leon County. For more information on proper sharps disposal, please click here. For unwanted medicines, please follow the Florida Department of Environmental Protection guidelines for proper disposal.

Ways You Can Reduce Illegal Activities 

Homeowners & Business Owners 

  • Dispose of household chemicals properly at the Hazardous Waste Center.
  • Follow label directions on pesticide and fertilizer containers and dispose of properly.
  • Use yard waste as mulch or dispose of properly by bagging or composting leaves and grass clippings.
  • Recycle approved containers. For information on what you can recycle, click here.
  • Maintain septic systems.
  • De-chlorinate swimming pool water before discharging.
  • Properly store and dispose of substances used in commercial processes.
  • Landscape to prevent excessive runoff and erosion.
  • Maintain privately owned stormwater ponds.
  • Learn and comply with local environmental ordinances.




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