Rain and leaves cause flooding, storm drain clogs

Flooding creates safety, drainage, waterway problems

October 24, 2019 - by Amy Cloud, Communications and Outreach

After record-setting rainfall to open the week, there is more rain forecast for Friday.  That could mean water over roadways and leaves accumulating to clog City drains and waterways.

When water covers a roadway it may be unsafe to travel. If there are warning signs, drivers are expected to comply for their own safety as well as to protect roadways that may be compromised by extreme weather.

Bellingham Emergency Manager Lynn Sterbenz said drivers may be tempted to go through floodwater because it seems shallow and they assume they’ll make it to the other side.

“It may be a lot deeper than they think,” said Sterbenz. “We urge drivers not to drive through floodwater because you don’t know what’s under the water or if the road has worn away. You don’t know if there’s a wire down or debris in the road.”

Even when it doesn’t cause flooding, rain brings down leaves. As common courtesy – and to ensure compliance with city code – Bellingham residents need to keep their sidewalks clear of leaves and make sure leaves and yard debris do not enter ditches or block storm drains.

When leaves accumulate on the street, it is challenging for City street sweepers. And leaves can clog storm drains, causing flooding and impacting water quality. Here’s how you can help:

  • Do not sweep or blow your leaves into ditches and streets;
  • Clear leaves from storm drains, if you can do so safely;
  • Rake what you can reach (do not go into the street);
  • Put leaves into your Sanitary Service FoodPlus container, or bag them for disposal; and
  • If you compost leaves, make sure the compost is not placed where it can leach into the City’s stormwater system or nearby wetlands or streams.

If there is a drain clogged that is difficult to clear, please contact Public Works – Operations at (360) 778-7900.  For more information, visit the City’s webpage on leaves and grass in storm drains or contact AskPW@cob.org.

Media Contact

​Amy Clo​ud, Communications & Outreach
City of Bellingham – Public Works
AskPW@cob.org or accloud@cob.org
(360) 778-7912

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