COLUMBIA - Although the beautiful colors and falling leaves are what many people look forward to during the fall season, city officials say unkempt leaves can present many problems for the city.
Columbia stormwater educator Mike Heimos said if leaves are not raked and contained, they can clog stormwater drains and get into waterways. Heimos said the rain this past week only adds to the amount of leaves falling.
He said many people don't realize the leaves pose risks to the city.
"The misconception is that leaves are natural, they're in the environment. They fall from the tree and land in the creek anyway, but when you take 50 homes or 100 homes in a subdivision and everyone's piling in, that debris, it can be detrimental to the water and it can also cause flooding," said Heimos.
Columbia resident Noelle Richter said she never thought about the potential risks to stormwater drains due to fallen leaves. She said she thinks it's helpful for the city to inform people of what those risks are and what they could do to help prevent it.
"It's the responsibility of each resident and commercial property owner to bag up those leaves and remove them," Heimos said.
Heimos said public works gets a lot of calls this time of year from residents who believe that the city comes around to clean leaves on the streets, but it does not. Heimos said there are things people can do to prevent these issues.
City officials said good ways to prevent the negative effects of fallen leaves are by raking them and putting them in bags for curbside collection. You can also mow them, or take them to the city mulch site at Capen Park Dr. or Parkside Dr. City officials said to not sweep leaves into the street.