In July, 2006, the Moberly City Council adopted an Ordinance directly addressing yard wastes deposited on the city streets. This ordinance has little to do with the aesthetic value of clean streets, but rather was implemented to protect property and the environment.
Grass clippings, leaves and plant prunings are a significant source of problems and pollution when allowed to wash into storm drains. Yard wastes that enter the storm drain system will decrease the flow capacity and/or cause blockages, increasing the risk of street and basement flooding. Yard wastes that find their way through the storm drain system enter local creeks and waterways. As this organic matter decomposes it uses up the oxygen required by aquatic life. The excess nutrients promote algae growth further depleting the oxygen supply. The rotting grass and leaves can create a foul odor and discolor the water. Improperly discarded yard wastes create problems in the street, in the storm drain system and in local creeks and lakes.
Area citizens have several options when it comes to disposing of their yard wastes. The City of Moberly offers a program where area residents can bring leaves, grass clippings, small limbs and branches to the City Street Barn free of charge. Many gardeners use yard wastes as mulch or compost it. Compost provides a slow, steady release of nutrients and incorporates organic matter into the soil. This improves the soil fertility and moisture holding capacity. By composting non-meat food scraps (vegetables, fruit, coffee grounds, etc) with grass clippings and leaves, you can produce a good compost pile that will fertilize your lawn or garden. A mulching lawn mower will chop up the grass and leaves small enough that it can be left on the lawn to take advantage of the steady nitrogen release. Most lawn mowers can be inexpensively retrofitted with mulching blades. Either option will save money on trash bags and fertilizer costs and also helps to protect your property, the infrastructure of the sewers, and the environment.
The City Code Department is enforcing this ordinance and for good cause. It is good for area citizens, their health and their property. It is important for the environment, area creeks and lakes and their inhabitants. At the very least, all a person has to do in order to comply with this ordinance is simply turn the mower discharge away from the street.