Falling Leaves: To Bag Or Not To Bag?

By Joe Scavuzzo, Director, Department of Public Works

At the end of my October article, I asked if the dry weather of summer and September would continue into a dry fall, causing leaves to fall early. Hurricane Joaquin answered that question pretty thoroughly! With the news showing devastating flooding down the Jersey Shore and down the East Coast, Pennsauken was spared major damage. There were a couple calls for fallen trees in streets over that weekend, but nothing compared to that storm on June 23 of this year.

This brings us into our next season: leaf collection. Leaf collection operations generally begin in late October and complete around the end of December. Every section of town will have leaf pickup at least twice during this time. This is in addition to the weekly Wednesday “yard debris” pick-up, when Waste Management picks up your bagged and bundled items. We ask for your patience while we are working in your neighborhood, as our large equipment could end up blocking parts of the street or intersections. We received a new leaf machine earlier this year to replace the 1990 model that was on its last leg.

It is highly encouraged that you bag your leaves whenever possible. However, there are parts of town, such as Collins Tract, Iron Rock, and even Bloomfield, where the density of large, mature trees creates mountains of leaves. The main reason we encourage residents to bag leaves is to protect our storm water inlets along our streets from becoming clogged, preventing the flow of water from the street into the system. In addition to this, any cool fall breezes that come through won’t blow that leaf pile back onto your lawn or all over the street.

You may notice that there are several different types of inlets along the curbs throughout Pennsauken. Some have a large opening, while others consist of a grid-like cover on the vertical part that makes up part of the curb. This is to keep out water bottles, large items, and other unwanted debris from entering the system and causing blockages; or worse, making its way to pollute our streams and rivers. Each year, our sanitation crew replaces a number of the older style inlets with the newer style that keeps out the unwanted debris. It’s a process that we are committed to each year, until each grate in town is replaced.

You may or may not be aware of what happens to those mountains of leaves after they are collected. Pennsauken’s Department of Public Works operates and maintains one of the best functioning and best looking leaf composting sites in the state. I have had three interactions with the state and county Department of Environmental Protection representatives who comment on how great the site looks in comparison to others they inspect. This can be attributed to our heavy equipment operator stationed down on Park Ave. that keeps us in compliance. After the compost matures, it is delivered to the Municipal Pool on River Rd., where residents can supplement their gardens at home with this nutritious soil.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach us at (856) 663-0178 or e-mail at publicworks@twp.pennsauken.nj.us.

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