The next time a street floods during a heavy rain, don't blame the problem on the downpour. The actual cause may be those lovely, colorful fall leaves.
Leaves not only cause flooding, but also cause other problems when they are washed down a storm drain. Once in the storm drain, they travel through them into the Wolf River and Nonconnah Creek and on to the Mississippi River and McKellar Lake. The leaves travel so quickly, there is no time for them to decay before reaching the natural streams.
A large amount of leaves deposited at one time at the bottom of a river or lake can disrupt the ecosystem by smothering the vegetation fish use for nutrients. Also, the oxygen required to decay the leaves depletes the oxygen needed for fish to live.
Most bagged leaves left at the curb are collected separately from other wastes by City solid waste crews for recycling. The leaves are transported to the City's Earth Complex Composting Facility, where the leaves are debagged and processed into compost over a one-year period.
The resulting matured compost is ultimately sold to local landscape companies or used as a soil amendment on City parks and other public properties, thus saving the City thousands of dollars in unnecessary landfill disposal fees. Last year over 8,000 tons of compost were generated from over 2,000 truck loads of bagged leaves collected from the curbs of Memphis homes.