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Why do street sweepers drive up and down streets blowing leaves around?

Malissa Talbert

The primary purpose of the Wilmington’s street sweeping program is to keep the streets clean and remove sediment, trash, debris and leaves from the road before this material gets carried into the drainage system via stormwater runoff.

Removing this material from the street surface is much easier and more efficient than trying to remove it once it is inside the underground network of pipes and manholes. All this debris can also clog the drainage system causing water to flood streets or private property. In addition, keeping this debris out of our drainage system also keeps it from polluting our creeks and streams.

In fiscal year 2009/10 alone, city street sweepers collected 2,557 tons of sediment, trash, debris and leaves. While street sweepers are not perfect and may push some leaves around, they do provide an overall benefit that assists in making our streets safe to travel, protects private property and reduces the amount of pollution getting to our waterways.

Malissa Talbert is a spokeswoman for the city of Wilmington.

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