Leaf pick-up is essential during the fall

Officials request that residents maintain their leaf removal

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) — Public Works officials urge residents to be vigilant about leaf pick-up this fall.

Officials request that residents maintain their leaf removal, especially in areas where leaves could end up on or in sewer drains, because this can have both an environmental and a public safety impact.

“The leaf litter can build up and it can plug up the sewer drain rakes, and you can get ponding,” Casey Berube, deputy superintendent of Westfield Public Works, said.

Ponding is when water cannot evacuate from an area, particularly through a sewer drain, and thus a large amount of water builds on the surface.

“On hilltops it can be damaging,” Berube said about ponding. “It can cause channelized erosion and rapid flow high volume flooding.”

In order to prevent this, Berube said that residents are encouraged to maintain the sewer catch basins, much like how during a snowstorm residents must keep sidewalks and fire hydrants in front of their homes clear.

“We probably have 8,000 catch basins in the city and we just don’t have the resources to cover them all after every event,” Berube said.

And for those unfamiliar with what a catch basin is, it is the grate that is usually on the side of the road that leads to the city’s sewer system.

Berube said that it is imperative to clean leaf litter prior to it getting into catch basins because it doesn’t only impact areas with flooding but can cause environmental issues, too. Leaf litter, when it gets into fresh water areas like Hampton Ponds, can build at the bottom and cause eutrophication, which is when oxygen is depleted in the water source.

This occurs because leaves are high in nitrates and provide a great fertilizer for plant life. As the plant life continues to grow underwater, it eventually decays and causes oxygen demand increases in the water. Over time this can have an impact on freshwater animal life such as fish, as well as create impure, unsightly and unsafe water for humans.

Berube said that people do not need to go to great lengths in order to prevent these issues, but to at least be diligent with leaf pick-up and maintain the sewer catch basins near your home.

Leaf pick-up in Westfield this year will happen on three dates, each corresponding with trash pick-up days. For those who have trash pick-up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, leaf pick-up will occur on Nov. 5; for those on Thursdays and Fridays, leaf pick-up will be on Nov. 19; and for those on Mondays the pick-up will occur Dec. 3.

Berube urges residents to have their leaves out on the curb prior to these dates, but to also be mindful of weather. If there is precipitation in the forecast, then make sure to find shelter for the bags so they do not become too heavy or easily ripped.

Copyright 2016 The Westfield News