For Immediate Release
November 14, 2016
Proper Leaf Disposal Impacts Flooding and Water Quality
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Autumn leaves have fallen from many of the City’s deciduous trees. As residents and landscaping companies decide what to do with their leaves, Fayetteville’s Urban Forestry Advisory Board encourages the community to avoid raking or blowing leaves into the street and to be mindful of leaves’ impact on stormwater and drainage systems.
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. Further, these extra leaves lead to clogged drains and ditches, increasing the possibility of local flooding during heavy rain events.
The Washington County Cooperative Extension Service compiled a quick 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 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.
The City of Fayetteville Recycling and Trash Collection Division is also a resource for leaf management. Residential customers of the City may place leaves in 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 also dispose of yard waste at the City’s Compost and Mulch Facility. For more information on these City resources, visit this webpage or call Fayetteville’s Recycling and Trash Collection Division at 479-575-8398.
While much energy is often spent on leaf disposal, 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.