Fall and Winter Tips: Options for Leaves, and Keeping Sidewalks and Storm Drains Clear

(BLOOMINGTON) – As the seasons change, the City of Bloomington reminds residents of the options for handling fallen leaves at their property and requests residents’ assistance in keeping storm drains clear of leaves and debris, and adjacent sidewalks free of leaves, snow, and ice.

Starting Monday, November 4, the City offers residential leaf collection and curbside leaf vacuuming. Through December 19, leaves bagged in biodegradable or paper bags will be collected biweekly on residents’ current yard waste collection day at no charge.  Leaf bags may be purchased through many local retailers, such as hardware stores and area grocers. Leaves in plastic bags will not be collected.

All other yard waste, including sticks, brush, and limbs, must be separated from leaves and bundled and will be collected for a fee of $1 per bag or bundle that is added automatically to residents’ utility bill.  Bagged or bundled yard waste set out for collection, including bagged leaves, must weigh 40 pounds or less, and be placed at the curb by 5:00 a.m. for collection.

Alternatively, residents may bring leaves to the curb for vacuum pickup.  Each residence will receive one pickup from November 4 through December 20 on a schedule posted here, which is updated daily throughout the leafing season as it is adjusted for inclement weather.  In order for leaves to be vacuumed, they must be as close to the curb as possible, out of the roadway, and clear of storm drains and fire hydrants.  Leaf piles left for vacuuming must be free of limbs and debris. There is no charge associated with curbside leaf vacuuming.

The City reminds residents that composting or mulching leaves is a greener way to reduce waste, create useful fertilizer, and lower the energy cost and emissions associated with municipal leaf collection. More information on composting may be found here.  

Also this season, residents are encouraged to help tackle the challenges presented by the increased rainfall associated with climate change. A simple way to prevent flooding and erosion and keep debris and pollutants from adversely affecting the ecosystem is to keep storm drains free of leaves, grass clippings, and trash.  Residents can help by regularly removing debris from the surface of the storm drain adjacent to their property and/or joining the Adopt-a-Drain program to commit to keeping a set of storm drains clear.  Program participants also affix markers to drains, reminding residents to keep pollutants from entering them. Information about participating in Adopt-a-Drain is available at stormwater@bloomington.in.gov or (812) 349-3617. Residents who notice a storm drain that needs additional maintenance or who are unable to clear the drain themselves may file a uReport.

Additionally, homeowners within city limits may apply for grants to help manage and mitigate the effects of stormwater.  The Residential Stormwater Grants Program, which opens for applications in January, awards funds to help residential property owners construct green stormwater infrastructure projects, such as rain gardens, retention ponds, culverts, and green swales, among other features.  The City of Bloomington Utilities’ Stormwater Education Specialist schedules neighborhood/homeowner visits to share information about options for tackling stormwater challenges on private property.  More information is available at stormwater@bloomington.in.gov or (812) 349-3617. 

Finally, as winter approaches, the City reminds property owners that the Bloomington Municipal Code (§6.07.010) directs that they are responsible for keeping the sidewalk(s) adjacent to their property clear of snow and ice.  To facilitate access for all pedestrians, owners of both commercial and residential property must clear their adjacent sidewalk within 24 hours after snow or ice has ceased to fall or accumulate.  On sidewalks in the downtown snow removal area a path of at least 54 inches (or the width of the sidewalk) must be cleared; in other areas the minimum clear width of the path is 36 inches.