Options available for residents to properly handle yard debris

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With the springtime yard cleaning and live oak leaf-falling in full swing, Beaufort city leaders urge residents to follow rules for disposing of yard debris to help keep drainage systems clear.

Late last year, Beaufort earned a better flood insurance rating for its upgraded drainage and stormwater management system. However, recent heavy rains, coupled with the annual leaf fall and residents’ efforts to keep lawns clear, have put too much debris onto the streets, Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said.

Leaves blown into the street can cover and clog drainage grates and pipes. They also can damage the city’s street sweeper, which isn’t designed to sweep up heavy loads of leaves or other yard debris, Dadson said.

“We need everyone’s help on this,” he said. “Blowing leaves onto the street seems like a simple solution to cleaning up your yard, but it creates major problems now and in the future. The city team worked hard to upgrade our drainage system to get better flood insurance rates for residents and businesses. We need everyone’s help to maintain the drainage system.”

Within the city limits, it’s against the law to damage or obstruct any ditch, drain or watercourse, with fines of twice the damage done. It’s also illegal to put any debris in ditches along roads or property boundaries that drain land in any direction.

“It can be a resident blowing or raking leaves onto the street a few times a year or landscapers and yard crews doing it every week,” said Isiah Smalls, Beaufort’s Director of Public Works. “We are reminding people in the city of how to properly deal with yard debris, and our crews will be checking up on violators.”

Ten bags or less of yard debris — typically grass clippings or bagged leaves — will be picked up on regular city garbage days if the bags are heavyweight yard bags and are twisted or tied closed.

When there are more than 10 bags of yard debris, or branches that need removed, pick-up is done on Thursdays and Fridays using a special truck. A resident can ensure pick-up of large quantities of bags or branches before the weekend by placing these items out before Thursday and calling Waste Pro at 645-4100 and requesting a special pick up.

Yard debris is taken to a special soil reclamation center operated by Waste Pro where the leaves, grass and branches are burned, then mixed with soil to create compost — which in turn is used by The Greenery to improve landscaping on city property.