The Conservation Department reminds Westport residents that both the Regulations for the Protection and Preservation of Wetlands and Watercourses of the Town of Westport, and Westport’s Waterway Protection Line Ordinance prohibit the dumping of debris, including leaves, in a wetland or watercourse.
Conservation Director Alicia Mozian stated, “Now that autumn has arrived, it seems like the yard work has only begun. Before long we’ll all be raking and hauling leaves in an effort to clean up, and looking for a way to dispose of leaves. As tempting as it may be, however, our wetlands and watercourses are not the place to be dumping leaves.”
Ms. Mozian continued, “Laws that protect our wetlands and waterways are there to protect the town’s natural resources as well as private property.”
She explained the following:
- Wetlands act as natural drainage basins for the collection of excess groundwater in the spring and runoff during storm events.
- Wetlands keep floodwaters within streams and their floodplains. When people use wetlands for leaf disposal, their natural ability to absorb water for flood control purposes can be compromised. When wetlands are filled in, water could be displaced to adjacent properties potentially causing flooding of neighboring land.
- Leaves can also clog streams and drainage culverts causing flooding problems for upstream residents. Furthermore, when the leaves decompose, they may cause nutrient overloading in the stream leading to unpleasant algae blooms, lower dissolved oxygen levels, and the death of dependent aquatic organisms.
- Freshwater wetlands retain floodwaters like a sponge, releasing them slowly over time. This gradual release supplies nearby streams with water during times of drought, keeping the watercourse healthy. If wetlands are filled with leaves or otherwise altered, the streams depending on them can run dry in summer months, creating undesirable stagnant pools where running water should be.
Residents are reminded that there are several options available for proper leaf disposal, including:
Composting leaves in the back yard within a fenced area or a composting receptacle, located at least 20 feet away from any wetland or watercourse. Not only is backyard composting a convenient alternative, it also produces valuable soil for container or garden planting the following year. Residents can learn the simple techniques of composting by linking to various web-sites such as www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/basic-leaf-mold
- Westport residents with a valid sticker may deliver leaves to the yard waste site at 180 Bayberry Lane behind the Westport/Weston Health District (no plastic bags please.) The yard waste site is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 a.m to 12 p.m. on Saturday. From Nov. 4 thru Dec. 2 Saturday hours at the yard waste site will be extended until 3 p.m.
- The curbside collection period is happening now and through Dec. 4, 2017. Any leaves placed on the curbside during this period in biodegradable paper bags will be collected by the Westport Public Works Department. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be picked up. The compost process cannot handle plastic bags. Residents living on private roadways must place their bagged leaves at an intersecting town roadway.
A Department of Public Works crew will pick up throughout the entire town several times during the collection period. A final pass will begin on Dec. 4 and take approximately one week. Any properly bagged leaves put out before Dec. 4 will be collected
For more information about leaf removal or the yard waste site, contact the Department of Public Works at 203-341-1120.