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Business Source Control

The City of Tacoma literally grew up on the waterfront – with downtown businesses helping Tacoma grow to what it is today. However, all those years of industry and progress were also somewhat harmful to the Thea Foss Waterway and Commencement Bay.


Today, the City of Tacoma wants to work with local businesses to ensure that we are creating new ways of working together to succeed in both the environmental and economic aspects of business.


Pretreatment Program

Not all wastewater is created equal. Industrial wastewater is one of the biggest sources of wastewater system contamination. Pretreatment is the process of removing harmful pollutants from the water before it reaches our wastewater system.


Pretreatment has many benefits:

  • Keeps harmful pollutants out of wastewater system
  • Protects the people who work with or near wastewater
  • Prevents costly damage to wastewater treatment plants
  • Increases chances of being able to recycle and reclaim industrial wastewater into products such as TAGRO

These benefits are why the City of Tacoma began our industrial pretreatment program years before the state Department of Ecology made its use a requirement.


Through our industrial pretreatment program, the City of Tacoma:

Since its inception, the pretreatment program has reduced wastewater pollutants such as arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc by 50 to 99 percent before enters the City wastewater system. Some of these toxic metals have even dropped below the detection limit. The program also applies to businesses outside of Tacoma, where wastewater flows into Tacoma’s wastewater system, including Fife, Ruston, Fircrest and some parts of Federal Way and Pierce County.


To find out more about how your business can comply with the pretreatment program, call (253) 591-5588.


Business Inspections

The City of Tacoma has inspectors that inspect more than 200 businesses a year as part of the City’s industrial pretreatment program. These inspections, half of which are unannounced, are designed to help businesses comply with the pretreatment guidelines.


During a typical three-hour inspection, inspectors will do the following:

  • Visit loading, storage and process areas
  • Observe the facility in action
  • Examine records
  • Sample and test waste streams
  • Check area storm drains, which empty directly into streams, lakes, and bays, for signs of pollution

If the wastewater quality inspectors find something out of compliance with the pretreatment guidelines, they make recommendations for how to correct it and they offer technical support. The inspectors work with the businesses to address the problems and assist in any needed areas.


Surface water employees respond to a variety of wastewater drainage complaints for industrial, commercial, construction, and residential sites. Most of these complaints are resolved through a site visit, but sometimes enforcement action must be taken through the Chapter 12.08 drainage ordinance.


When the City drainage ordinance is violated, the City has the authority to enforce the ordinance and control the source of pollution. If the business is permitted by the Washington State Department of Ecology, the City informs the Department of Ecology of any violations. The state is responsible for enforcing industrial National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations.


If you have a question about industrial inspections call (253) 591-5588. To report an illegal dumping call (253) 383-2429.


Certified Mobile Washers

Mobile washing companies clean business vehicles on-site. If you hire a mobile washing company to clean your vehicles, make sure the company has been certified by the City. Remember that regardless of who washes your vehicles you are responsible for the wash water on your property.


We certify and inspect mobile washing companies to make sure they keep dirty, soapy water out of the City storm drain system, our lakes, streams, and bay.


Do you have a mobile washing company? Get certified by the City of Tacoma by calling (253) 591-5588.

Cleaning and Sweeping Services and Suppliers of Erosion Control Products

These lists are updated regularly each January. If your business is not listed and you wish to be included, please contact Cassie Petty at (253) 502-2239.

Stormwater systems cleaning and sweeping services
Suppliers of erosion control products