Pennsylvania American Water Asks Customers to Help Keep Storm Drains Clear

Falling leaves can block storm drains resulting in flooded roadways

Pennsylvania American Water reminds customers that falling leaves can block storm drains in their neighborhoods, resulting in excess stormwater and flooding conditions. Proper disposal of leaves and yard waste also keeps waterways clean and helps maintain water quality.

“Homeowners often rake fallen leaves to the curb for collection by their municipality,” said Joe Woodward, senior director of operations, Pennsylvania American Water. “Not all municipalities conduct curbside pickup of leaves. Wind or rain can wash those leaves down the gutter, blocking storm drains and causing additional issues during rainstorms, including flooding streets.”

Pennsylvania American Water recommends leaves and other yard waste be bagged for pickup or recycling. Check for local organizations or recycling centers that accept leaves for recycling and composting. Customers are asked to follow these tips to help keep storm drains clear this fall:

  • Never rake or blow leaves into streets, ditches or storm drains
  • If leaves are being collected, only place leaves and yard debris at the curbside on your designated collection day
  • Mow over leaves to create a finely chopped mulch
  • Put fallen leaves and other organic debris into a compost bin

Woodward added, “If residents see a storm drain in their neighborhood blocked by leaves or debris, it can be easily cleared with a rake or shovel, provided that it can be done safely.” 

Any leaves that remain inside storm drains will eventually decay, sending excess nutrients into local waterways. The additional nutrients act like fertilizer, which can lead to excessive algae growth and fish kills along with other water quality-related issues. In addition, leaves, litter and other debris can enter the combined sewer system, eventually making their way to the wastewater treatment plant. This situation results in additional removal and disposal costs, along with increased labor expenses to maintain proper plant operation. 

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. For more information, visit and follow Pennsylvania American Water on Twitter and Facebook.

About American Water

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable, and reliable water services to our customers to help make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Media Contacts

Susan Turcmanovich

External Affairs Manager, Northeast PA