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Fall comes "later" in Florida… but leaves still need proper disposal

St. Petersburg, Fla. – (February 26, 2018) -- ‘Tis the season for falling leaves in Florida.  Combine that annual activity with warming temperatures that have spurned grass growth, and you’ve got a double-whammy.  Yard debris is piling up all over the city. 

But as you look to clear your lawn and sidewalk, remember: raking or blowing your yard debris into storm drains isn’t just lazy… it’s illegal. 

Fallen leaves and grass clippings can plug storm drains, flooding our roads and harming our waterways. When grass clippings and too many decomposing leaves are put in our streams, unnaturally high levels of nutrients can harm aquatic wildlife.  Some studies have shown that this sort of disposal can actually trigger high levels of fecal coliform detection. 

Unlike the water that flows down the drains inside your home which goes into the sanitary sewer system and ultimately to water reclamation facilities for treatment, St. Petersburg’s storm drain system is completely separate; water in the storm drain receives little treatment or filter processing.  This means that any pollution that gets washed into the storm drain is washed right into nearby creeks, streams and tributaries leading to Tampa Bay.

But you can help:

Keep all fallen leaves and grass clippings on your property; off of the sidewalks and out of the streets. 

Set your lawn mower to mulch and mow high. Taller grass retains moisture and catches grass clippings. Mow often enough that grass clippings are shorter than the remaining lawn and can be trapped on your lawn. If you choose to collect grass clippings, follow any of the options below.

Compost leaves on site away from storm drains, wetlands and streams. Contain your compost to keep nutrient-rich water from leaching into the storm system.

If you see a storm drain that is clogged and can clear it without placing yourself in danger, please remove the leaves. Use a rake to help you reach the leaves without entering the street.  If it is inaccessible or otherwise inadvisable to do the work yourself, notify St. Petersburg Public Works and we’ll look into the situation immediately.

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City of St. Petersburg
P.O. Box 2842
St. Petersburg, FL 33731

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