This garbage was found in a catch basin in Jefferson Village Subdivision last year. The garbage included soda cans, water bottles, paper plates and even a football. - Special Photo
COVINGTON -- Covington residents are being asked by officials to stop putting yard debris on the street that could clog up the stormwater system.
Councilman Chris Smith reminded residents at the June 17 council meeting to keep limbs and other debris on their property and not put it into the roadways. Later, Smith said he has noticed debris on Floyd Street and other streets off the Square. The council agreed a reminder should be sent in utility bills.
It is unlawful to blow leaves, grass clippings and other yard debris into the roads or storm drains. Yard debris should be put on the curb, not into the roadway, although City Engineer Tres Thomas noted that even there, it's possible for some debris to blow into the stormwater system. Officials have in the past discussed implementing a bagging system to prevent that.
Some landscapers or residents also blow grass cuttings directly into the street, a violation of the city's stormwater illicit discharge ordinance.
It's not just vegetation that poses a problem. Litter, including plastic bottles, soda cans and potato chip bags -- anything "you don't put in the trash can like you should" -- can clog up the stormwater system, Thomas said. "Illicit discharge is not what storm drains are intended for. They are not garbage collection boxes," Thomas said.
The city is required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to clean stormwater structures.
While some of the trash gets cleaned out, some inevitably floats into nearby waters and streams, Thomas said.
"If it rains really heavy, you'd be surprised the trash and water bottles you'd find in there," Thomas said. "It adds to the degradation of waterways."
That, in turn, adversely affects public health and safety, drinking water supplies, recreation, fish and other aquatic life, property values and other uses of land and water, he said.
Residents can call 770-385-2000 to report illicit discharge.
A warning is issued upon the first violation and a citation for the second.