Blowing grass clippings, leaf debris and other yard waste into a nearby storm drain can have a catastrophic effect on both water quality and quantity. Nutrients in fertilized grass and turf are a key contributor to the development of harmful algae blooms that have a devastating effect on local water quality. These algae blooms start to decay after the nutrients have been consumed, and the bacteria that breaks everything down consumes excessive dissolved oxygen in the water, which can cause dead zones and fish kills through hypoxia.
In addition, stormwater flows over hard surfaces such as roofs, sidewalks and driveways. It picks up pollutants along the way that often contain pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, automotive fluids, pool chemicals, sediment, yard waste and pet waste.
To spotlight the “Only Rain Down the Drain” message, the City of Irving Capital Improvement Program Department is targeting yard waste. In order to keep the creeks and rivers flowing clean and clear, the only thing that belongs in the storm drain is rain.
Large clumps of grass clippings, leaves, sticks and other yard waste also clog storm pipes, which can lead to flooding during rainstorms and produce unpleasant odors as the organic material decays in the pipes. A city ordinance prohibits introducing these and other such pollutants into the storm drain system.
Best practices regarding yard waste:
- Blow grass clippings back into the yard to preserve nutrients.
- Bag, mulch or compost excess leaves.
- Reduce the amount of fertilizer that is placed on the lawn.
- Do not blow anything down the storm drain.
Local waterways, such as streams, creeks and lakes, provide food, water and recreation for the community. Pollutants can increase the cost of water treatment, deter those seeking enjoyment from recreational areas and harm local wildlife either directly or by disrupting ecosystems.
Tips for preventing stormwater pollution:
- Repair leaking vehicles.
- Bag pet waste.
- Properly dispose of trash.
- Wash vehicles at a commercial car wash.
- Drain pool water into a sanitary sewer clean-out.
- Use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers sparingly, or look for safer alternatives.
- Prevent yard waste from entering the street or storm drains.
- Dispose of household hazardous waste (oil, paint, batteries, light bulbs, grease, etc.) properly.
Visit the Pollution Prevention page for more information about preventing stormwater pollution, including resources for proper disposal of waste materials.