County Officials: Please Don't Sweep Leaves Into Streets

Keeping storm sewers clear reduces street flooding, officials say

With the leaves beginning to change colors and flutter to the ground, it won't be long before Ocean County residents are raking them up.

When you do, however, the Ocean County Board of Freeholders is asking that residents not simply dump their leaves in the streets, where they eventually wind up in storm drains.

"Please be civic-minded and pay attention to the catch basins," Freeholder James Lacey said. Keeping them clear of leaves will reduce or prevent street flooding in heavy rains.

The county has roughly 10,000 storm sewers along the roads it is responsible for, Lacey said, and the county roads department -- to which Lacey is the liaison -- has two crews of seven employees each (14 people total) dedicated to cleaning and maintaining the basins.

"We try to clean each basin once a year," said Thomas Curcio, the roads supervisor.

"We could probably get twice as many cleaned if we didn't have all the red tape," Freeholder John C. Bartlett said.

When the county's vacuum trucks suck the sand and debris out of a storm drain, it has to be screened, sorted recorded, tested for pollutants, and dried before it can be discarded -- it cannot just be dumped in a landfill, Bartlett said.

Because the rules are so stringent, many municipalities have simply stopped cleaning the drains, Bartlett said. "So whatever's in there is going into the Toms River anyway," he said.

In the end, the fewer the leaves in the sewers, the less debris for the trucks to have to clean out, Lacey said.

Alan K October 03, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Good idea. Now, it should apply to the crews with blowers that cut grass, then blow it all into the street. Where does that go? Into the storm drains! Why can't they pick up the grass and dispose of it with the rest of the grass they collect?
ed crowley October 04, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Was the red tape created by the people they suggested we vote for?
janey October 04, 2012 at 04:48 PM
People are generally not civic minded....they are selfish. My neighbor burns his leaves and brush in his fire pit, creating a huge plume of smoke. You can't even breath outside when he does it....let alone it is illegal.
A Resident October 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Interestingly enough, my town tells residents to pile them in the street and the town will pick them up. The leaves will sit there for a couple weeks, but the town does eventually come get them.
barbara October 06, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I also see the large landscapers blow leaves into the street and also into the sewers.Maybe word should get out to them, too.


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