Gathering fallen autumn leaves can prevent flooding, pollution

Nov 1, 2023, 4:11 PM

Image of a BYU grounds crew employee raking leaves even as they continue to fall from the trees. Le...

FILE: A BYU grounds crew employee rakes leaves even as they continue to fall from the trees. Lehi City officials say it's time to clean up autumn leaves before they get caught in storm drains and cause flooding or water pollution. (Jason Olson)

(Jason Olson)

LEHI, Utah — Autumn leaves look beautiful on the trees, but fallen leaves can later lead to dangerous water conditions. 

That’s why Lehi City is reminding citizens to pick up dead leaves from yards and streets before they get stuck in storm drains. That potential is the city’s biggest concern. 

“The number one concern is flooding. Because [leaves] can get caught in the grates and stop stormwater from (entering) the drains. It can build up in the gutters and overflow into people’s yards,” said Shelbey Brewer, Stormwater Engineer at Lehi City.

Fallen leaves can land in storm drains, leading to pollution

Leaves in storm drains can also create pollution in lakes and rivers.

“The leaves contain lots of organic elements,” said Brewer. “If they decompose and go into our waterways, it eventually gets carried into Utah Lake and the Jordan River.

“All that organic matter contributes to the algae blooms that we see in the summer.”

Preventing flooding and pollution is why Brewer is encouraging citizens to clean up leaves before the snow gets too heavy.

You can help by:

  • gathering the leaves in your yard by raking, bagging, and throwing them away, or, mowing over leaves with a lawnmower;
  • removing leaves from gutters in front of your house and in your neighborhood;
  • picking up leaves that cover storm drains.

Leaves can be disposed of in regular trash cans or green waste disposal bins.

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Gathering fallen autumn leaves can prevent flooding, pollution