Keep Waterways in Mind: 4 Ways to Keep Leaves From Clogging Storm Drains

Keep Waterways in Mind: 4 Ways to Keep Leaves From Clogging Storm Drains

Now that the fall season is winding down, you may be facing the unavoidable outdoor chores that come with the changing season. Remember to keep our waterways in mind when you tackle your fall yard cleanup.

All Kane County residents live in a watershed, which means that all of the water that runs off of our streets and yards enters storm drains and eventually runs into local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. Autumn leaves that are blown or swept into storm drains can become a source of water pollution once they enter waterways and decompose, releasing phosphorous into the water which can result in algae blooms and decreased oxygen for fish.

However, pollutants are not the only problem. Leaves can also build up along curbs, gutters and storm drains, which blocks stormwater runoff from entering this drainage infrastructure. Should a major weather event occur, this can lead to localized flooding.

Kane County residents can help to keep excess leaves out of storm drains and waterways by engaging in a number of activities:

  1. Don’t rake or blow leaves into storm drains.
  2. Always check with your municipality and follow the specific guidelines for leaf removal in your area.
  3. Start a compost pile or add leaves to an existing one—composted leaves and other organic materials are an excellent resource for fertilizing your garden in the warmer months. Compost provides necessary nutrients, while also reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
  4. Leaves can be chopped into small pieces using a mulching mower, which will decompose directly on lawns. The leaf pieces can also be collected and spread around flowerbeds and shrubs as mulch.

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For more information about how you can help protect local waterways, please visit and click on Stormwater Education.

SOURCE: Kane County Environmental and Water Resources Division