MUSCATINE, Iowa – You have seen the commercials on television, posts on social media, and accounts throughout the various media outlets … the placement of grass clippings on roadways is a safety hazard, especially for those on motorcycles and bicycles. It is also an unwanted problem in storm water management.
Muscatine City Code (Title 3, Chapter 1, Section 7B) states that is against the law for anyone to throw or deposit on any street or alley any glass bottle, glass, nails, tacks, wire, cans, trash, garbage, rubbish, litter, offal, or any other debris or substance (i.e., grass clippings) or substance likely to injure any person, animal or vehicle.
DEALING WITH CLOGGED STORM DRAINS
Everyone likes greenspace on their property …that well-manicure grassy area that breaks up the concrete of sidewalks and driveways, and is environmentally beneficial. As much as we enjoy these spaces, they do have to be maintained and if, when mowing, grass clippings are blown or swept onto the road they can result in storm water pollution.
When it rains, the grass clippings and yard waste that is thrown or deposited on to streets is washed into the storm drainage system and creates clogs. When the drainage system becomes clogged, flooding can occur and it takes expensive equipment and labor to find and remove the clogs.
Three Department of Public Works employees and a truck have to be deployed to vacuum the sewer or flush it so that the clog can be captured at the next manhole. This takes resources away from other projects. And if the debris reaches the Water Resource and Recovery Facility, there is additional costs to separating out that debris.
To prevent clogging and potential flooding around storm inlets, blow grass clippings back toward the yard or use a mulch attachment when mowing. Grass clippings are a natural fertilizer and reapplying to yards reduces solid waste and can decrease the need for fertilizer and water by adding nutrients and limiting evaporation.
Residents can also bag grass clippings (and leaves in the fall) for disposal at the City of Muscatine Compost Site or in the residents own compost area.
Find out more about City of Muscatine Stormwater Operations HERE.
A HAZARD TO MOTORCYCLES
“Grass, and grass clippings, are about 85 percent water. And it doesn’t matter if those clippings are wet or dry, when they’re in the street, experts say they can be a danger to motorcyclists. When grass clippings come between a motorcycle’s tires and the pavement, things can get scary. Especially on curves, a motorcyclist needs a contact patch between the tires and the asphalt. When anything else goes into that area, it’s a safety risk. You may have never thought about it, but grass clippings can act as a sheet of ice. In the middle of the summer. Motorcyclists may have to take safety measures to avoid wiping out. They may slow down, switch lanes, or cross over a double yellow line to avoid grass clippings.”