leaves in storm drain

Sediment Pollutants

Help prevent water pollution

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Mud and Dirt Keeping Leaves Out of Storm Drains

Sediment is the scientific term for mud, dirt, and soil. While it is a natural part of the environment, too much of it in one place can pollute our streams, lakes, and rivers. Sediment runoff into our streets and stormwater drains negatively impacts the health of local streams by degrading habitat for aquatic life, decreasing recreational value, and promoting growth of invasive plant species and algae.

Mud and Dirt

Mud From Construction Sites

Erosion and sediment control is important on every construction site. Construction sites, large or small, can become a problem for existing neighbors as well as the environment when soil has been disturbed.

One way to keep this pollution to a minimum is by installing devices to control erosion and reduce the amount of sediment leaving the construction site. The property owner and construction company should determine the specific practices needed during construction and maintain them throughout the project so off-site sedimentation does not occur.

At a minimum, construction sites should utilize rock construction entrances and silt fence around the edge of the project to prevent sediment from getting into the streets, stormwater swales, and stormwater pipes. Any sediment tracked out in the streets, curb lines, or stormwater swales will be carried to the nearest stream, lake, or river when it rains.

When cleaning sediment off streets, driveways, and paved areas on construction sites, dry sweeping methods should be used instead of water hoses whenever possible. If water must be used to clean pavement, stormwater inlets should be protected to filter sediment entering the stormwater drainage system.

Keeping Leaves Out of Storm Drains

Yard Waste

Yard waste in streets and storm drains:

  • Is dangerous for cyclists and motorists;
  • Ruins creeks and lakes – Yard waste decays in the water using up oxygen and releasing pollutants that can kill plants and other organisms;
  • Can cause flooding; and,
  • Leads to more stormwater maintenance costs. We spend thousands of dollars a year to flush out clogged storm drains. 

Landscaping Tips

Here's how you can help:

  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn (they’re good fertilizer)
  • Mow away from the pavement
  • Sweep or blow clippings back onto the lawn
  • Make compost! Mix grass clippings with leaves and soil
  • Keep leaves off the street


There are a few options when collecting leaves and grass clippings:

Year-round - Do yard waste curbside pickup with the City of Raleigh.

Seasonal - Take part in loose leaf collection from November to February. This is for residential properties only. Commercial properties should bring their leaves and grass clippings to the Yard Waste Center

Practices for Professionals Working in Streets

Are you a landscaper or do work, like system maintenance, road marking and maintenance, street sweeping, and graffiti removal? Follow these tips to keep pollution out of the stormwater system. You'll protect the environment and help us meet permit requirements. 

  1. Work during dry weather when you can. 
  2. Pile materials away from storm drains, ditches, and waterways. 
  3. Use inlet protection, like filter socks, around storm drains to keep dirt out. 
  4. Don't pour waste material, wastewater, or pesticides/herbicides into a storm drain. 
  5. Carry spill response details with you. Contact us if you can't contain the spill. (919-996-3940 or RaleighStormwater@raleighnc.gov)
  6. Avoid using coal-tar based sealants on roads. Don't apply if rain is in the forecast. 
  7. Clean and maintain equipment at designated areas only. (i.e. indoors or where you can use inlet protection)
  8. Regularly inspect, test and repair equipment. 
  9. Make sure debris is secured in equipment during collection and completely removed afterward. 
  10. Use biodegradable solvents when removing graffiti from surfaces.
  11. Apply pesticides and herbicides as needed and only to areas that need it. 



Zachary Poole
Illicit Discharge Coordinator 

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