Raul M. Rojas, Director, Public Works

OWOW store  displayPesticides are a statewide water quality issue. Where there is urban development and agriculture, there are pesticide toxicity issues in the waterways. That is why Marin County is under the same Urban Creek Diazinon & Pesticide Toxicity Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) as the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

MCSTOPPP works with programs such as Our Water Our World and the Marin County Pesticide Reduction Outreach Campaign to promote the use of less toxic pesticides and the overall reduction of pesticide use in Marin. In addition, each municipality and the County implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programs to reduce pesticide use in their municipal operations.

MCSTOPPP also partnered with the City of Petaluma to develop and implement a regional pesticide monitoring program to determine if pesticides were present, and if so, which pesticides and at what levels.

If you have pesticides you no longer use, take them to your local household hazardous waste facility. In California it’s illegal to dispose of any amount of unused pesticide (or any hazardous waste) in the trash, in spite of what the label may say. You may dispose of empty pesticide containers in the trash if they are five gallons or less in capacity. When you have used up the pesticide, rinse the container three times, each time pouring the rinse water on the plant you bought the pesticide for. Then put the rinsed container in the trash. Water used to rinse out a sprayer or applicator should be applied like the pesticide.

Never dispose of pesticide rinse water in any indoor or outdoor drain or in the gutter!


Our Water Our World

Be a part of the Solution! Choose effective, less-toxic or non-toxic alternatives!

The Marin stores listed below partner with MCSTOPPP in a program called Our Water Our World. This program makes it easier for store customers to make more informed decisions when selecting products to manage pests. Partners include:

  • Ace Building Supply Center - Pt. Reyes Station
  • Bayside Garden Center - Belvedere/Tiburon
  • Fairfax Ace Lumber and Hardware - Fairfax
  • Goodman Building Supply - Mill Valley
  • Chase Ace Hardware - San Rafael
  • Jackson's Hardware - San Rafael
  • Marin Ace Hardware - San Rafael
  • Pini Ace Hardware - Novato
  • All five Sloat Garden Centers (Kentfield, Mill Valley, Novato, San Rafael)
  • The Home Depot - San Rafael
  • Toby's Feed Barn - Pt. Reyes Station
  • United Market and Garden Center - San Rafael

Participating stores also make available an assortment of fact sheets, provided by MCSTOPPP, to assist customers in managing various pests in the least toxic way possible.

We do have a list of less-toxic products according to targeted pest available but please note that not all products listed are available in all stores.

Next time you shop for a pesticide product in one of the stores mentioned above, look for one of the following tags placed beneath less toxic products found on store shelves – or ask store staff to assist you in making choices that are better for you, your families, pets, and the environment.

OWOW shelf talker

Learn more at the Our Water Our World website.

Education and Outreach Partners

To address pesticide-related toxicity in urban water bodies, MCSTOPPP partners with regional education and outreach programs in efforts to decrease demand for pesticides that threaten water quality, while increasing awareness of effective, less toxic alternatives.

Research done during development of the TMDL found that pesticides applied around homes according to label instructions can and do lead to toxicity in local water bodies. Education and outreach initiatives funded by State grants, wastewater and stormwater dischargers, and others like MCSTOPPP promote the behavior change necessary to reduce this threat of pesticide-related toxicity in our creeks. These initiatives include:

  • Our Water Our World provides materials, including fact sheets displayed at Bay Area hardware stores and a helpful free app, developed to assist consumers in managing home and garden pests in a way that helps protect water quality.
  • Department of Pesticide Regulation combines regulatory action and voluntary adoption of improved pest management methods. Their Pest Management Program encourages the use of environmentally sound pest management, including integrated pest management (IPM).
  • EcoWise Certified is an independent, third-party certification program that distinguishes knowledgeable, leading-edge licensed pest management professionals who practice prevention-based pest control.
  •, hosted by Wastewater and Stormwater Dischargers, provides useful information on preventing all types of pollution where we live, work, and play, including how to find a certified pest control professional near you.
  • IPM seminars are offered in the Bay Area by the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA), a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing Continuing Education and to the implementation of safe and effective pest control techniques. Look for "IPM" next to the seminar date.
  • Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening is an approach to gardening and landscaping that works to maintain the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay Watershed by fostering soil health, water conservation, waste reduction, and pollution prevention.

Total Maximum Daily Load - TMDL

Rainfall and over- irrigation create runoff that can wash pesticides from landscaped areas and areas around buildings into storm drains and eventually into creeks, bays, and the ocean. In the 1990s, water from San Francisco Bay Area urban creeks proved toxic to aquatic organisms at the base of the food web, primarily due to runoff of the common insecticide diazinon. Diazinon was used throughout the Bay Area to manage many pests, including ants and grubs. The Diazinon and Pesticide-Related Toxicity in Urban Creeks TMDL plan (2007) sets forth actions designed to restore water quality.

By 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency required most products containing diazinon to be removed from retail store shelves. However, other pesticides with equal or greater aquatic toxicity have replaced diazinon and other banned chemicals in the marketplace. Therefore, the TMDL plan addresses pesticide-related aquatic toxicity in general, regardless of which pesticide causes the toxicity.

To comply with required TMDL actions, Marin’s cities, towns, and the County of Marin implement pesticide-related toxicity control programs. Each municipality adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy or ordinance. IPM policies and ordinances require staff training and protocols and practices that result in less toxic pest management at municipally-owned and operated facilities.

As part of the education and outreach requirements, MCSTOPPP partners with other state and regional programs to promote pesticide reduction and the use less toxic alternatives.

Municipal IPM Policies