If yard waste (such as leaves, grass clippings, weeds, prunings, brush and small twigs) is disposed of along a creek or in a storm drain it can have a negative impact on the community.
Yard waste decaying in creeks and rivers decomposes in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic life can’t survive in water with low oxygen. As yard waste decomposes, plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are also released. These nutrients promote the excessive growth of algae in the water. As the water becomes polluted, it does not support aquatic life and becomes a health hazard.
Leaves and woody debris naturally accumulate in steams and creeks. However, when you collect and dispose of yard waste along creek banks, the added yard waste covers the ground and keeps out the natural vegetation that helps to stabilize the bank. This practice leads to increased erosion and sedimentation that clouds creek water and destroys habitat for aquatic life. Improper disposal of yard waste increases the accumulation of debris which in turn can lead to blockages that inhibit proper drainage. Although it is common for some homeowners to dispose of yard waste along creek banks, it is not a good practice.
What Can You Do?
- Never allow yard waste to be washed down or put into storm drains
- Do not sweep or blow grass clippings along the street or into a storm drain
- Do not dump grass or yard waste onto a creek bank or area where it will be washed into creeks and rivers
- Control soil erosion on your property by planting native trees and ground cover to stabilize erosion prone areas
- Compost leaves, brush, grass clippings and other yard waste
- Mow grass higher and leave grass clippings on the lawn to retain moisture and provide nutrients to the soil as they decompose
- Do not over water your lawn or garden. This may increase leaching of fertilizers to ground and surface water.