Pennsylvania American Water Urges Customers to Keep Storm Drains Clear of Leaves This Fall

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (Oct. 28, 2020) – Pennsylvania American Water is reminding customers to keep leaves and other debris out of storm drains to minimize flooding and protect local watersheds. Pennsylvania is known for its incredible fall foliage, but when these beautiful, colorful leaves eventually drift to the ground, they can cause serious challenges for wastewater systems.

“We are asking customers to please clear leaves and other debris from yards and sidewalks by raking it into bags for proper disposal or collection,” said Jake Gentile, Senior Manager of Operations for Southwest Pennsylvania. “Leaves, branches and grass clippings should never be blown or raked into the street where they can enter storm drains. Leaves that enter storm drains clog pipes and can eventually lead to costly sewer backups and street flooding.”

In addition, leaves, litter, and other debris can eventually make their way to wastewater treatment plants. This situation results in additional removal, disposal and labor costs to maintain proper plant operation.

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.

Pennsylvania American Water 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 (your lawn will love it!).
  • Put fallen leaves and other organic debris into a compost bin.

In addition to leaves, Pennsylvania American Water is urging customers to do their part to make sure disposable masks and gloves do not end up in storm drains. These items, which have become increasingly prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, should always go in the trash.

“As more people wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, more personal protective gear is ending up as litter on our streets and sidewalks,” said Gentile. “These items eventually make their way into storm drains, causing blockages and other serious problems.”

Pennsylvania American wastewater customers can report suspected sewer overflows by calling 1-800-565-7292. More information about how to prevent sewer blockages inside and outside the home can be found at

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. 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 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 46 states.

American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.