As we approach the final drop of leaves from trees and the closing of fall, it is essential to properly dispose of leaves to help keep storm drains clear and contribute to the success of the county’s overall draining system, according to a news release.

Yard debris, which is defined as leaves, limbs or yard trimmings that are not disposed of properly, is a major contributor to clogged storm drains and street and neighborhood flooding.

Storm drains exist to manage rainwater and prevent the kind of flooding that seasonal rains bring. In turn, a fully functional draining system keeps homes and businesses safe and dry during storms with lots of precipitation. When it rains, or snow melts, the water runs off streets, driveways, and yards picking up pesticides, grass clippings, leaves, fertilizer, bacteria and oil. All of this debris and pollution enter the over 12,500 storm drains along the streets of Stafford County and gets discharged directly into rivers and streams.

To limit the clogging of storm drains and to reduce the impacts of stormwater pollution, Stafford County encourages residents to:

· Run over leaves with a mulching lawnmower to reduce the leaves to shreds so that they decompose and fertilize your lawn. Fall is the best time to fertilize. Avoid using harsh chemicals to keep your yard healthy for your family and your pets and avoid applying pesticides and fertilizers when rain is predicted.

· You can take bagged leaves and yard debris to the Regional Landfill, 489 Eskimo Hill Road, Stafford, VA 22554, or visit www.r-board.org.

If leaves are in paper biodegradable bags, they may be left in the bags when putting in the dumpster, but if they are in any plastic bags whatsoever, they must be dumped from the bags and the bags removed.

· Do not rake leaves into ditches or storm drains, and do not burn leaves in your ditch. Keep storm drains clear of debris.

· Please pick up all lightweight or empty plant pots, basketballs and other yard games, so they do not blow into the ditches and clog drains.

· Recycle your rainwater. Direct your downspouts to your garden beds to take advantage of the runoff from your house or collect rainwater in a rain barrel or cistern.

· Pick up after your pet. Animal waste, when left on the ground, washes down storm drains.

· Only rain should go down the storm drain.

For more, contact the Stafford County Environmental Division at 540-658-8830.

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