Column: Help keep leaves out of storm drain grates


Submitted content courtesy of the Hamilton County Surveyor’s Office

Autumn is upon us. The changing season brings shorter days, beautiful fall colors and cooler temperatures. Autumn also means that leaves are falling off the trees. Rain and wind can carry these leaves to storm drain grates. The leaves accumulate on the stormwater grates or travel further into the storm sewer system and into open ditches. In either case, this accumulation of leaves and other debris can impede or block the flow of stormwater, resulting in localized flooding of yards and roadways. Ponding water in the roadways can lead to unsafe driving conditions and ponding water in rear and side yards is a nuisance and can lead to property damage.

We can all do our part to keep stormwater flowing into the drains. If you see a storm grate or roadside ditch that is clogged and can clear it without placing yourself in danger, please remove the leaves. Watch the weather forecast and remove the leaves before rain is forecasted to fall.

If a roadway grate or side ditch is clogged, use a rake to help you reach the leaves without entering the street. Please do not place yourself in danger when removing the leaves.

  • Leaves can be collected and placed in large paper landscape waste bags, mulched into your lawn with a mulching lawn mower or other equipment, or composted on-site. If you choose to compost the leaves, please confirm with your homeowners association and your community that composting on-site is allowed and identify any regulations for composting activity.
  • Some communities offer leaf removal service. Please confirm with your community that a leaf removal service is provided, the requirements to participate and the schedule for this service. Unless your community requires the leaves to be stockpiled along the curb in the roadway, it is best to place leaves within the tree lawn area and not in the roadway itself.

Hamilton County, The White River Alliance and Clear Choices/Clean Water have partnered in the development of the Storm Drain Stewards program. This program allows volunteers to take a service pledge and adopt a storm grate. These Storm Drain Stewards pledge to keep that storm grate clear of leaves, trash and debris and to report any polluters. Please consider adopting a storm drain in your neighborhood. Learn more about how you can make a difference at:


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