News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 03/12/2008
Subject :

City Warns: Don't Dispose of Medicines in Sinks or Toilets
Drop Them off at Safe Disposal Site in Palo Alto
Contact : Phil Bobel, Manager, Environmental Compliance Division, Regional Water Quality Control Plant    650-329-2285

New Report of Pharmaceuticals in Nation’s Water Supply Underscores

Palo Alto, CA – "We are issuing an urgent reminder to all local residents to dispose of their unneeded pharmaceuticals at our free drop-off site, and not down the sink or toilet," said Phil Bobel, Manager, Environmental Compliance Division, for the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP). His statement followed Monday’s Associated Press story about pharmaceuticals being present in drinking water following a study conducted by the American Waterworks Association Research Foundation in which 20 of the nation's water systems were tested.

The plant’s drop-off site, located at 2501 Embarcadero Way in Palo Alto, is open to RWQCP service area residents Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Palo Alto residents also can drop off household hazardous wastes at a collection event held on the first Saturday of every month at the plant. For more information, see, call (650) 329-2598 or e-mail 

Although San Francisco’s water supply (which serves Palo Alto) tested negative for pharmaceuticals, Bobel says the recent test results illustrate how pharmaceuticals can enter water supplies and recreational areas like San Francisco Bay.
"Medicines disposed down drains or toilets can pass through wastewater treatment facilities which aren’t designed to remove all pharmaceuticals.  When they enter the Bay, they can harm fish and other marine life," Bobel said.  

Nationwide studies show that fish may undergo sex alteration, altered behavior, poor hatching and other dysfunctions due to compounds in old medicines tossed into sewer systems. These impacts can be minimized when residents dispose of medicines properly.

"We’ve safely disposed of more than 1,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals since 2006," said Bobel. "I’m proud of local residents who took the time to help us prevent these medicines from polluting San Francisco Bay." 

The RWQCP treats wastewater from the East Palo Alto Sanitary District, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Stanford.  Residents are eligible to use the plant for free disposal of pharmaceuticals and other household hazardous wastes. The RWQCP offers extensive information and programs to prevent pollution. For information, see, call (650) 329-2598 or e-mail   


Phil Bobel, Manager, Environmental Compliance Division  
(650) 329-2285

Rose Anne Raphael, OneWorld Communications
(510) 549-2994