Keep Durham Beautiful encourages responsible leaf management.
It’s so tempting to just blow or rake leaves directly into the street and out of your yards. You’re probably thinking, why keep leaves and grass clippings off the street? The answer is simple…it’s very bad for our water quality and can create hazardous street conditions. Leaves and grass clippings clog storm drains, causing flooding during storms both in the streets and in our waterways.
Leaves in storm drains also contribute unwanted nutrients into streams and lakes, which ultimately decreases our water quality. Storm drains empty directly into nearby surface waters without treatment, making it imperative that only rainwater enters them.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you to properly dispose of your leaves, keep in mind that leaves in our streets causes our community to look untidy. More importantly, City of Durham’s street sweepers could come along and suck up the leaves. This may seem helpful, but in fact, the leaves make the sweepers less efficient by forcing them to work harder to collect litter and debris beneath the leaves. Debris collected by street sweepers is not compostable in the same way that leaves are. As a result of litter contamination, it is considered “municipal solid waste” and must go into the landfill with other trash.
Durham street sweepers collected 6.4 million pounds of debris last year. While this is an important way to clear litter and debris from our streets, it is no substitute for prevention. Residents can help by keeping the street and drains near their property clean and clear of litter, leaves and grass clippings.
How can you dispose of leaves properly?
- Compost your leaves on your own property. In mowing season, leave grass clippings on your lawn to act as fertilizer.
- Hire a yard service that properly disposes of leaves.
- Take your leaves to the City of Durham transfer station for a prorated fee of $26.50 per ton.
- City residents can become yard waste customers and rent a cart for a $78 annual fee. Yard waste customers may place up to ten additional biodegradable brown bags filled with leaves alongside yard waste carts each week.
- County residents with a current 2013 decal can dispose of yard waste at the Bahama, Redwood, and Parkwood Convenience Sites. Visit the County’s website at www.dconc.gov/recycling for more information.
- Remember, burning leaves is not allowed in the City or County due to fire hazard and air quality concerns.
For information about composting leaves on your property, renting a yard waste cart, or visiting the transfer station, contact the City’s Solid Waste Management Department at (919) 560-4186 or visit www.DurhamNC.gov.
If you would like to help even more, you can check out a kit and volunteer to label storm drains in your neighborhood with anti-pollution messages. Contact the City of Durham Stormwater Services and GIS Division (919) 560-4326, ext. 30235 or StormwaterEducation@DurhamNC.gov to get started.
About Keep Durham Beautiful
Keep Durham Beautiful, a non-profit affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, engages and inspires individuals to take greater responsibility for their community environment. To learn more, visit www.KeepDurhamBeautiful.org to sign up for our newsletter. Be sure to like us at www.facebook.com/KeepDurhamBeautiful or follow us at www.twitter.com/DurhamBeautiful.