Now that fall has arrived, this is a good time to prepare for the seasonal changes. Preparation may include changing the way we do those clean up tasks around our yards. As October winds blow, leaves dried by the summer heat begin to fall. How you clean up those fallen leaves and branches could lead to bigger problems.

It’s tempting to rake or blow the debris into the street. But many cities and towns prohibit pushing leaves into the street, and for very good reasons. You manage to put the leaves in the street, but they don’t stay there. Rains and wind carry those piles into the storm drains. You’ve cleared your lawn of debris, but you likely have created a bigger problem if they enter the storm sewer drains.

Storm sewer drains are designed to prevent flooding by carrying rainwater away from the street. When leaves and debris clog the storm drains, unwanted flooding occurs. In some circumstances, clogged storm sewers create pollution hazards. Leaves piling up in underground catch basins can emit poisonous gas. This gas affects the oxygen levels in nearby waterways, potentially polluting local creeks and harming the wildlife living in them.

Be proactive by keeping your storm drains free of leaves and debris. Bag the leaves and branches or move them to areas of your yard where they will not invade the drain. If you see water pooling around the drain, remove any visible debris. Pour water down the drain to ensure the clog is gone. For stubborn clogs near the opening of the drain, use a plumber’s snake to remove the blockage. If water continues to back up into the street or yard, contact a plumber to clear the clog from your drain.

Remember, debris in the street can lead to clogged storm sewer drains triggering a backup of stormwater into your street, driveway, and yard. Prevent unwanted flooding by clearing your storm drains and properly disposing of leaves and branches.