Leaves Causing Problems for Storm Water Drains

Related Story

COLUMBIA - As fall comes to an end residents need to make sure they dispose of their leaves properly.

The city of Columbia is urging homeowners not to blow their leaves out into the streets or dump them in local creeks and streams.  Since the city does not have a leaf collection program the responsibility of correctly getting rid of leaves falls on residents.

Mike Heimos, the city's storm water educator, says that this is an annual problem that causes major problems for Columbia's drainage system.

"These systems are just made for rain water, that's the only thing that's supposed to go into a storm drain.  If you take an entire neighborhood of 150 houses and every single person in that subdivision decides to blow all of their leaves or take those leaves and put them into a storm drain that's gonna clog it up," Heimos said.

When leaves pile up in the streets and are pushed down into the drains it inundates the system.  Eventually everything that is dumped down will make its way down to a pipe and once its caught up water can't flow through and erosion around the pipe occurs.

"You can really cause some havoc whether it's flooding, whether it's erosion issues, back up, we want to keep the streets safe, we want to make sure all the water gets off the streets how it's supposed to get off them," Heimos said.

Mass amounts of leaves clogging storm water drains not only causes problems for the city's streets and streams but also for Columbia's street sweepers.

Sam Thomas, the city's street manager, says that leaves in bulk quantities cause problems for the street sweeping crews.

"It's definitely not recommended to leave the leaves out in the streets like that cause it is a big burden on our equipment," Thomas said.

If residents want to properly dispose of their leaves they can put the leaves out with their regular trash, turn it into compost or take the bags to the city's yard waste sites at Capen and Cosmo Parks.