Leaves blocking drain after rain.

As homeowners, we are responsible for the trees on our property. That means when trees decide to lose their leaves, we are responsible for where they go. If you’re anything like my neighbors – your mind says “if the leaves are in the street, it’s not my problem.”

Except, they are your problem. Too many leaves blocking a storm drain can cause flooding in heavy El Nino rains. Flooding leads to impassable streets, safety hazards and possibly property damage.

You have the power and ability to help keep your community safe during winter storms. If you feel up to the task, jump in and help out.


Leaves should be removed from around storm drains.

Leaves should be removed from around storm drains.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Grab a rake and sweep up all the leaves and place into your organics (green waste) container for the trash company to pick up.
  2. Rake those leaves and put them into your compost bin. Don’t compost? Now is a great time to start.
  3. Use the leaves as mulch around your plants. Leaves are rich in potassium and micro-nutrients which plants need to grow.
  4. If you see flooding in your streets due to clogged storm drains – stand on the curb above the drain and use a bow rake to remove the leaves from the grate. Pull the leaves onto the curb out of the way of the water.
  5. If flooding is too great and you can not safely clear the drain, call your local public works department to clear the drain for you.

Recently, Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works Department has been clearing debris from creeks and recently posted this to twitter:

Better yet – follow the City of Oakland‘s lead and volunteer to clear storm drains of leaves.

Our friends at Delta Diablo shared with RecycledH2O some information about the street sweeping program they do in their service area.

  1. Move your vehicle, garbage/recycle containers and any other obstructions from the street,
  2. Remove large pieces of debris from the gutter,
  3. Do not pile debris into the street, including leaves, vegetation and wood,
  4. Keep the roadway in front of your property clear of any obstructions,
  5. Secure your loads and clean-out the bed of your pickup truck to prevent unintended littering,
  6. Use garbage cans, recycle bins and litterbags to dispose of liter. Take responsibility for your actions and properly dispose of your trash,
  7. Trim back vegetation. Property owners are responsible for maintaining minimum tree clearances of 7 feet above sidewalks and 14.5 feet above curbed streets.

    Cut back tree branches 7 feet from sidewalk, 14.5 feet above streets.

    Cut back tree branches 7 feet above sidewalks and  14.5 feet above streets.