Storm drain pollution will get new attention from Dallas in a plan endorsed by a City Council Committee Monday.
It’s a plan to keep yard waste and grass clippings from winding up in storm drains.
The drains may seem like an easy disposal pit in dry weather, but keeping them clear is crucial to free streets from flooding when it rains and they are connected to sensitive creeks and The Trinity River.
“Environmentally, it’s not safe, not friendly to have all of the grass clippings blown into the streets that eventually goes into our storm water,” Dallas City Council Member Dwaine Caraway said. “It is something that has been plaguing us for a number of years. Even though Dallas has an ordinance that says you can’t do it, folks continue to do it.”
Caraway leads the Dallas City Council Quality of Life Committee, which heard a briefing on the enforcement plan Monday.
It includes registration of landscape contractors that do business in Dallas.
“We don’t necessarily want to impose a fee, but we must have ways to communicate and contact so we can still educate them,” Caraway said.
Council member Carolyn Davis said fines could be the next step if education fails.
“We can reach them and say look, ‘You have done some violations. You’ve been cited on A, B, C and D and you must clean up your act,” Davis said.
Landscape contractors could be required to use storm drain covers near large landscaping jobs the way building contractors are required to do now to keep debris out of storm drains.
The committee did not agree with a proposal to require catcher bags on lawn mowers but suggested that be an option to avoid allowing yard waste to be left in the street.
“Do whatever you need to do, but it’s not intended to be on the streets,” Caraway said.
Dan Sullivan with Diamond Lawn Service in Dallas said his firm is already licensed by the city and he supports the rules, which his employees already follow.
“You’re not allowed to blow debris in the storm sewers,” Sullivan said. “I guess for companies that disregard it, there’s where the problem’s going to be, and the homeowners, also.”
Officials said property owners who mow their own yards would be reminded about the pollution fighting rules with flyers in water bills and at community meetings.
“I think everybody has to get used to it. This is our water,” Sullivan said.
The full city council will consider and vote on the changes in the near future.
“We’ll implement the ordinance and expect for it to be followed,” Caraway said.
The Committee also discussed the hours permitted for yard work in Dallas, but saw no need to make changes when staff explained that current city code already states that mowing can only begin after 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.