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Time to remember that ordinance again

It seems it is time to remind everyone of the city ordinance that says “thou shall not blow your grass clippings into the gutter or street.” We’ve been blessed with a few April showers and the grass and weeds have begun to shoot up.

If you blow your lawn clippings into the street, you are compounding a problem the city has with its storm drains — the apparatus that carries away the water when we have a true gully washer.

All the “stuff” in the gutters eventually finds its way into our system of storm drains. After a few heavy rains in the spring or early summer most of the weeds, leaves, grass, and mud that has been sitting in the gutters all winter washes into the drainage system and guess what happens? Yup, the gunk overwhelms the capacity of the drains and things start backing up.

Adding grass clippings from your lawn is not helpful. If everyone in town shoots the clippings into the gutter all summer long, more drain clogging icky stuff will be fermenting in the storm drains. It will create one more problem for that ancient infrastructure on which we all depend. Clearing the debris will take more of your tax dollars.

Should the local police drive by when you are mowing see the grass blowing from your mower to the gutter, there is a healthy fine of $100 plus court costs for the offense. It is my understanding that usually our police officers will offer a word of warning for a first offense. However, there is no rule that says they must do so.

If you have children who are mowing for others this summer, you might warn them to turn the mower so the grass clippings from the rows closest to the street blow back on the lawn instead of into the gutter. A $100 fine and court costs are a hefty chunk of change for a kid trying to earn a little spending money. Actually, it is a hefty chunk of change for any of us.

Just so that you don’t think this is some arbitrary rule that a group of city council members dredged up a few years ago, you should know that it has been on the books for some time for the purpose of preventing problems similar to those of the water distribution system and the sewer lines.

The solution is to do the lawn mowing right. It takes little effort to turn your mower in the opposite direction for a couple of rows and keep the grass clippings out of the gutter and street, and ultimately, the storm drains.

I first wrote about this problem shortly after I went to work for the paper. Fewer residents violate the ordinance anymore so I assume more of them are knowledgeable about the issue. However, there seem to be quite a few new people moving into town and it seems perhaps we should examine the topic again.

I thought I was quite clever in that first opinion column about grass clippings when I penned this, “Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, do you know what the ordinance is?”

Now you do.

— SUSAN MARSHALL

Last modified April 15, 2015

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