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Proper Disposal of Yard Waste – For Landscape Businesses and Residents

Your cooperation helping to maintain the quality of our state’s water by practicing yard waste disposal methods (below) is greatly appreciated.  Working together we can all play a big part in keeping our lakes and creeks clean and healthy.

It is part of Douglas County’s mandate to educate businesses about the impacts of certain practices on the stormwater system and the quality of the protected ‘waters of the state’.   Improper disposal of yard and landscaping wastes is a violation of the Douglas County Stormwater Ordinance.

Grass clippings and leaves blown or swept into storm drains or into the street harms waterways and our creeks. Storm drains flow into pipes and into drainageways. When anything but rain and snowmelt goes down the storm drain, it can become a drainage problem. Improper disposal of landscape wastes, including leaves and grass clippings, have the potential to impact water quality and cause drainage problems during a storm event.

Did you know?

  • When landscape waste is discarded or blown into a stormwater inlet, the street system, or along a stream bank, it can cause flooding problems. Leaves and landscape debris can block the natural flow of water in the storm drainage system, which can cause water to back up and flood within the drainage system or the creek.
  • When landscape waste is discarded within the stormwater drainage system, it will decompose. Decomposing landscape waste can supercharge the creek with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, causing algae blooms resulting in low dissolved oxygen. Severely low dissolved oxygen levels in creeks can cause fish kills.  According to the U.S. EPA, phosphorus is one of the most troublesome pollutants in stormwater runoff and it is considered the primary cause of water quality problems in our waters, particularly in the Cherry Creek and Chatfield watersheds.
  • When landscape waste is discarded within the stormwater drainage system, it can bring harmful chemicals into the creek, including fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. While these chemicals can be used to protect grass, they will harm aquatic life and cause additional adverse effects to water quality when released into streams.

Proper Management and Disposal

  • Grass clippings can be left on the ground to improve the health of the lawn itself. There is no excuse for sweeping grass and/or leaves into the storm drains or waterways.
  • Douglas County street sweepers can barely keep up with the leaves already on the ground; please don’t add to the burden by sweeping or blowing leaves into your streets. Consider starting a compost pile for leaves and yard waste or invest in a mulching blade for your lawnmower.
  • Leaves can be bagged and left for trash pickup.

Douglas County Stormwater Ordinance, Violations, and Penalties

Presently, the County effectively prohibits discharge of landscape wastes to the storm drain system and drainageways through the use of enforceable regulations, specifically Sections 2.3, 3.3, 5.3 and 8, respectively, of the County’s Stormwater Ordinance.