Yard Wastes Impact the River
Storm Drain Inlets-
The River Starts Here
The City's storm drainage system is designed to efficiently carry rain and snow melt to the river and away from our streets and homes. Storm drainage inlets are the grates or openings usually located in the street near the curb.
The down side of this system is that any pollutant (garbage, chemicals, pet wastes, etc.) that is in our streets may enter the storm drainage system and ultimately, the river. There is no treatment of this water - it goes directly to the river. Yard wastes like leaves and grass clippings are Longmont's biggest problem because of the potential for blockages and localized flooding.
Another potential problem: leaves and grass clippings decompose into nutrients that can cause algal blooms in the river.
Leaves and Grass Clippings
It is a violation of the Municipal Code to rake or blow leaves into the street because
it can enter the storm sewer and cause blockages and localized flooding.
Violations may result in a warning or even a fine.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- DO NOT blow or rake yard wastes into the street - Sweep up or rake for proper disposal;
- Check storm drain inlets near your neighborhood to make sure they are free of debris. Rake leaves/debris away from the inlet and dispose properly. You should immediately report the problem to the Utility Operations if the debris is excessive or causes any back up or flooding;
- Never remove the inlet grate from the storm drain opening - this does not unclog the system and creates a hazard;
WHAT ARE PROPER DISPOSAL OPTIONS FOR GRASS CLIPPINGS AND LEAVES?
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Lawn Care - Fertilizers
Most grasses only require a modest level of nitrogen for good color and controlled growth. Too much fertilizer can be harmful, promote too fast growth (more mowing required) or wash into the storm drain and pollute the river.
Boulder County's Resource Conservation suggests a good schedule to follow is fertilize once in spring, again in fall and mulch grass clippings throughout the summer.
- Use fertilizers sparingly: Different grasses require different fertilizers - check with local garden center to ensure the proper application. For a slower and more unified growth, consider using "slow-release" or "water insoluble" fertilizers. (These are especially good for slopes, compact soil and any other lawn where the potential for runoff is very high.)
- Apply fertilizer when grass is dry. This prevents the foliage from being burned and allows the fertilizer to fall around the plants where it can be watered in.
- Avoid washing away fertilizers: Don’t apply fertilizers if the forecast calls for rain. Don't over water your lawn.
Click here to visit CSU-Boulder Cooperative Extension website for more tips on maintaining lawns & gardens.
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Composting is the controlled, biological decomposition of organic matter, such as food and yard wastes, into humus, a soil-like material. Composting is nature's way of recycling organic waste into new soil, which can be used in gardens and landscaping.
For more information on composting:
Boulder County's Composting website
BENEFITS OF COMPOSTING
Keeps organic wastes out of landfills.
Provides nutrients to the soil.
Increases beneficial soil organisms (e.g., worms amd centipedes).
Suppresses certain plant diseases.
Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Protects soils from erosion.
Assists pollution remediation.
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Overwatering of landscape or improperly planned drainage allows irrigation water or rain to escape your yard. Improve your landscaping by employing:
- Swales- direct run off from your property to a location that allows the soil to absorb the water.
- Rain Gardens- plant a flower garden in an area of your yard where water pools after irrigation or rain. This allows the water to seep into the ground rather than run off the property.
- Pervious Pavement- decorative paving bricks that can enhance absorption of water.
More water conservation tips available on-line.
Return to Stormwater Quality Page.
Return to Stormwater Home Page.
This page was updated
August 16, 2013
City of Longmont Public Works & Natural Resources
Stormwater Quality Program