City urges residents not to push leaves into the street

Staff photo

As leaves continue to fall from many of the city’s deciduous trees, Fayetteville officials are asking residents to avoid raking or blowing leaves into the street. Doing so can cause drainage problems and have a negative impact on water quality.

“Leaves raked into the streets, ditches, and storm drains add higher than normal levels of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients to our streams and water supply, which affects local ecosystems and increases the cost of providing clean drinking water,” said Fayetteville Urban Forester Derek Linn. “These extra leaves lead to clogged drains and ditches, increasing the possibility of local flooding during rain events.”

Residential customers of the city’s Recycling and Trash Collection Division may place leaves in marked bins or inside tall, decomposable brown bags for free curbside pickup on their regular trash collection day. The division’s compost facility also allows free drop-off of leaves and other yard waste to residents who bring a copy of their water bill. Commercial businesses and non-residents can dispose of yard waste at the city’s Compost and Mulch Facility, 1708 S. Armstrong Ave.

Linn said while many people prefer to dispose of leaves, there are benefits of keeping leaves on the ground:

  • Leaves add beneficial carbon (‘brown’ material) to home compost piles, balancing out the nitrogen content (‘green’ material) of kitchen scraps.
  • Leaves placed around plants help insulate young garden and landscape vegetation during cool nights.
  • Leaves, when mulched by a mower, decompose more quickly and can be used to selectively add nutrients to soil or planting areas.
  • Leaves enhance wildlife habitat and cover in natural areas.

The Washington County Cooperative Extension Service compiled the following guide of preventative actions to help keep leaves and litter out of the storm drainage system:

  • Take a moment to clean the storm drain inlets and ditches in your neighborhood. Make sure they are free of leaves, litter, and other debris that may inhibit proper drainage – particularly when rainy weather is headed your way.
  • Do not rake leaves, grass, or other organic refuse into the street or into a nearby ditch when doing yard work. These materials only end up blocking the drainage system. Furthermore, leaves and grass clippings reduce oxygen in the water (affecting fish) and add materials that would not otherwise get into the water system.
  • Do not clean driveways or sidewalks with a hose. Instead, sweep leaves, twigs, and grass clippings and place them in a compost pile or yard waste container. Otherwise, they may end up blocking storm drains.
  • Do not dump trash or pollutants into ditches or drain inlets. Not only will these toxins clog the storm drain, they can severely damage local bodies of water.

For more information, call the Recycling and Trash Collection Division at 479-575-8398.