Thursday, November 19, 2015

MCDOT and DEP Remind Residents to Keep Leaves out of Storm Drains and Streams


With Highway Services’ annual leaf vacuum collection program underway, both MCDOT and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) remind residents to help keep leaves out of storm drains.  Leaves washed into storm drains not only block drain inlets, causing street flooding, but also add excessive nutrients to local waterways, significantly degrading water quality and potentially harming fish and wildlife.

Avoid raking leaves into the street; instead, pile them near the edge of the home’s property nearest the road. Crews will collect the leaves that are placed alongside the roadway. And, be assured that storing leaves on the lawn for a short time does not damage it.

In addition to clogging storm drains and impairing water quality, placing leaf piles in the street can cause many problems by:
  • Disrupting traffic - Many neighborhoods have narrow streets and on-street parking. Leaf piles extending into the roadway limit parking and the ability of vehicles, especially school buses, to safely negotiate the streets.
  • Hampering snow removal operations - Snow covered leaf piles can become extremely heavy and freeze to the roadway surface.
  • Creating hazardous and very slippery conditions that could lead to accidents - When leaves get wet, they create a slick surface that makes it difficult for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists to stop, start or change direction.
There are several ways that homeowners can ensure fallen leaves are properly disposed, particularly for those who do not live the leaf vacuum collection area:

  • Recycle leaf litter (not recommended for evergreen needles) on the lawn while mowing using either special mulching blades or a mulching lawn mower. Leaves are finely chopped and decompose over time, adding to soil and lawn health.
  • Compost leaf litter and provide natural, organic nutrients to amend soils and help build soil structure. Montgomery County provides free composting bins and information on how to compost.
  • Take advantage of the County’s weekly curbside yard trim pick-up by placing leaves in special large paper bags or reusable cans labeled with green yard trim stickers. The collected leaves are composted by Montgomery County.
Learn more about recycling leaves and yard trim online

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