There's a good chance you've seen this vehicle out sweeping city streets, but did you know that street sweeping does more than just make our neighborhoods look better? Street sweeping not only makes the streets cleaner, it is also an important part of stormwater pollution prevention. Street sweeping keeps unwanted materials and debris from flowing into storm drains and polluting our local waterways, and can cause backups and flooding. It also keeps job sites clean and safe and helps to minimize tire damage. Here are just a few of the reasons why we sweep our streets:
Health and Environmental Protection
Every day, our streets are bombarded by exhaust, automotive fluids, and other transportation-related chemicals. Other materials that can make their way into storm drains include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, weed killers, paint, oils, grease, animal waste, decaying leaves, and construction site debris. Street Sweeping removes these contaminants before they can wash into storm drains where they are then carried into nearby creeks and streams.
While environmental protection is a primary reason for street sweeping, public safety is also important. Removing roadside debris can reduce accidents and improve driver safety. Trash and debris can also can become hurdles for pedestrians, runners, and cyclists which may lead to accidents and injuries.
Removing debris may extend the life of paved roads, and eliminating the number of plastics and litter that end up on the sides of roads helps to preserve local wildlife. By reducing the amount of road debris, street sweeping can help preserve the quality of our local air quality, creeks, and lakes
How Can You Help?
Grass clippings and leaves hold nutrients that pollute storm water runoff that enters our wetlands, lakes and streams. When mowing the lawn, remember to clean up grass clippings that end up on your driveway or street by blowing them back into your yard instead of into the street or storm drain. In the fall, rake the leaves in your yard so they don’t end up in the street and ultimately our creeks and lakes. Consider composting your leaves which puts valuable nutrients back into the soil. When walking your pets, remember to carry a plastic bag to pick up waste, and regularly pick up after your pet in your yard. Pet waste may not seem like a problem, but it doesn’t just decompose. It adds harmful bacteria and excess nutrients to local waters which causes excessive growth of algae and weeds that can kill fish and aquatic plant life.
So remember, only rain down the storm drain!