With Autumn leaves falling, Fayetteville officials are asking residents to avoid raking or blowing leaves into the street to reduce the impact on the area’s stormwater and drainage systems.
John Scott, the city’s urban forester, said leaves raked into the streets, ditches, and storm drains add higher than normal levels of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients to area streams and water supplies, which affects local ecosystems and increases the cost of providing clean drinking water. Also, he said, the extra leaves can lead to clogged drains and ditches, which increase the possibility of flooding during heavy rain events.
The city’s Recycling and Trash Collection Division offers residential removal of leaves in tall, decomposable brown bags or cans marked as “yard waste” for free during the weekly curbside pickups on their regular trash collection day.
The division’s compost facility, located at 1708 S. Armstrong Ave., 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 also dispose of yard waste at the facility.
For more information on these city resources, visit fayetteville-ar.gov or call 479-575-8398.
Tips to keep leaves and litter out of storm drains
The Washington County Cooperative Extension Service offers the following 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 the storm drainage system.
- 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.
Benefits of fallen leaves
Fayetteville officials said while much energy is often spent on leaf disposal, there are several benefits of fallen leaves:
- 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.