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The original item was published from 11/16/2021 8:36:44 AM to 11/30/2021 5:05:00 PM.

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Posted on: November 16, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Keep Leaves out of Drains, Help Protect Fayetteville’s Stormwater Systems and Drinking Water

Photo of fallen leaves:  "Stormwater Protection"

November 16, 2020


Contact: John Scott
Urban Forestry


Alan Pugh
Engineering Division



Keep Leaves out of Drains, Help Protect Fayetteville’s Stormwater Systems and Drinking Water

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.— Fayetteville’s deciduous trees are now dropping their leaves, and residents and landscaping companies have been busy gathering leaves and dropping them off at Fayetteville’s compost facility or using the organic material for mulch. Unfortunately, some leaves also end up in streets, ditches and storm drains. This leaf litter can result in hazardous and costly stormwater issues as drains clogged with leaves can lead to flooding of streets and property.

Organic debris such as fallen leaves also affects our water quality and drinking water supply. Leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste that is washed into stormwater drainage systems eventually makes its way into streams and lakes. The excess nutrients in this organic debris, including phosphorous and nitrogen, can lead to major water quality problems such as harmful algae blooms (HABs), which produce toxins that can sicken or even kill people and animals. Lake Fayetteville and the pond at Bryce Davis Park have both been closed on several occasions because of this algae. 

The City of Fayetteville asks residents to help keep leaves and other litter out of the storm drainage system through these simple preventative actions:

  • 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. In addition to blocking the drainage system, leaves and grass clippings reduce oxygen in our streams and lakes (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. 
  • 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.

The City of Fayetteville Recycling and Trash Collection Division is a valuable resource for leaf management. Residential customers of the City may place leaves in tall, decomposable brown paper bags for free year-round 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 also dispose of yard waste at the City’s Compost and Mulch Facility. For more information on these City resources, visit this or call Fayetteville’s Recycling and Trash Collection Division at 479-575-8398.

While much energy is often spent on leaf removal, it is important to remember the benefits of fallen leaves as well: 

  • 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.

For more information about the effects of organic debris on water quality, visit the website of  the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service at




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