Fall Leaves Do’s and Don’ts (and Why)

The Ada County Highway District has started a “No Leaves in the Street” campaign to help educate and encourage people to discard of their leaves in ways that don’t interfere with the function of our storm drains or pollute stormwater that leads to waterways.

When people rake or blow their leaves into the street, the leaves can clog the storm drains and result in localized flooding. After a storm, rainwater and melting snow from the streets travel along the gutters to the storm drains. The storm drain system is a network of underground pipes that transport stormwater to ground water or surface waterbodies like the Boise River.

Leaves and debris in the gutters can block the flow of the stormwater or get sucked into and on top of the storm drain grate, creating a clogged storm drain and resulting in localized flooding. Leaves that remain on the street or in the storm drain will eventually break down and release high levels of nutrients that can promote algae growth and pollute our waterways.

ACHD’s street sweeping program can handle the relatively small amount of leaves that fall naturally onto the road, but it is not designed to handle an entire yard’s worth, let alone large quantities house after house.

Your help with proper collection and disposal of autumn leaves is essential to the proper function of the storm drain system, and for the reduction of harmful levels of nutrients entering out waterways that can come from leaves as they decay.

Republic Services will collect leaves contained in paper leaf bags year-round, and the Ada County Landfill is accepting autumn leaves from October 21st through December 9th. Leaves that are taken to the Ada County Landfill must originate from Ada County (they only accept refuse from Ada County), and if they are brought to the landfill in anything other than paper leaf bags, you can either empty the leaf container (such as a plastic leaf bag) at the landfill and take the container back with you, or you can pay to dispose of the container there.

As we enter this season of extra precipitation and falling leaves, your help in ensuring storm drains remain clear of leaves and debris is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to share this message with your neighbors.