The storm drains in your street catch, move, and release rainwater into the nearest stream to keep excess water away from your property. But fallen leaves and other debris can cause localized flooding if they cover those storm drains. Blowing or sweeping fallen leaves into the street makes them a safety and stormwater hazard to your property and your neighborhood. You can help prevent this from happening by removing leaves from the street and storm drains near your property, usually with a rake. Here are some suggestions to follow:
Avoid raking leaves near the street where they can wash or get blown into nearby storm drains.
Watch for traffic when clearing leaves out of storm drains. Work from the curb, not in the street, and make sure an adult supervises any children who are helping.
Turn your leaves into beneficial compost. Autumn leaves are a great source of high-carbon material for your compost pile. Alternate layers of shredded leaves with the other materials you normally add to your compost pile (scraps from fruits and veggies, grass clippings, weeds, etc.) and let it sit over the winter. Whenever you think about it, aerate or turn the pile. Your compost will be ready to use by spring.
Shred leaves and use them as mulch on vegetable gardens and flower beds, around trees and shrubs, and in containers. Just add a 2" to 3" layer of shredded leaves to the beds, keeping the mulch from directly touching the stems and trunks of the plants. The mulch retains moisture in the soil, stays cool, and limits weed seed germination.
Use a mulching mower to shred your leaves once a week until they have all fallen, then "leave" them on your yard. While the leaves break down during winter, they'll shade your soil and provide it with nutrients, which means fewer weeds to deal with in spring.
Hoard them! Save a bag or two of leaves in your garage over the winter. In spring, adding that brown material to your compost pile makes your compost just right for the season.
Make sure any landscaping companies hired by your Home Owners Association do not blow leaves into the street.
Help out your whole neighborhood by joining the Adopt-A-Drain program and agreeing to keep at least four nearby storm drains clear during the rainy season.
Is raking not doing the trick? During normal business hours, please report clogged storm drains and flooding to 425-488-0118 (press 1) or online at www.bothellwa.gov/car. If reporting after business hours, call 425-486-1254. IF THE FLOODING IS AN EMERGENCY, CALL 9-1-1.
How we're helping
City of Bothell has over 8,000 storm drains. During this time of year, our Storm Operations crew runs both of our street sweepers seven days a week to help remove leaves from 306 lane miles of streets. Their efforts make a major difference in the amount of leaves left in the streets, but they can't be everywhere at once. We also need your help to keep the storm drains near your house clear before and during rainy weather.
How you can stay safe in a flood
Because of how much rainfall we get in the Pacific Northwest, flooding is a common regional problem. If you have flooding concerns, prepare ahead of time to reduce damage and keep your family safe:
Store household chemicals at higher elevations to keep them out of flood waters, especially in garages, sheds, and basements.
Make sure any underground storage tanks are fully sealed and secure.