As the fall season gets into full swing, trees begin to lose their leaves and Lodians spend hours raking them into piles for yard waste pickup.

After the Thanksgiving weekend, each Lodi home will have two opportunities to let the city take those leaves away.

The city’s annual leaf removal program will begin Dec. 2, with pickups starting in central Lodi. Pickups will occur each day through Jan. 14.

Kathy Grant, the city’s watershed program coordinator, said the purpose of the program is to not only help residents dispose of an excessive amount of fallen leaves this winter, but to make sure the leaves do not clog storm drains.

“We are mandated by the state to do this so the leaves don’t get into the drains and ultimately end up in the river,” Grant said. “The leaves can also present a flooding problem. If the drains are clogged with leaves, we’re going to have flooded streets.”

Grant added that leaves can affect the quality of the water in the Mokelumne River. As the leaves biodegrade, they deplete the oxygen in the river’s water.

Students in the Storm Drain Detective program have already noticed lower than normal oxygen levels in the river during the October monitoring event. This is possibly due to the increase of the seasonal drop of leaf litter from the surrounding watershed area, Grant said.

The city of Lodi has asked residents to rake all leaves into the street, beyond the toe of the gutter so water flow is not obstructed.

Leaf piles that contain prunings, lawn clippings or Christmas trees will not be picked up, Grant said, because in the event of heavy wind days, the contents can be blown around and cause messes that are difficult to clean up.

In addition, the city takes leaves to the Waste Management transfer station on Turner Road, which in turn takes the leaves to the county landfill for composting, Grant said.

Leaves packed into plastic bags will also be ignored, as the city cannot recycle the material.

A street sweeper will begin each pick up day at 4 a.m., and collection crews will follow at 6:30 a.m. The city will not collect leaves placed in the street after crews pass.

In addition, the city is asking residents not to park on the street on the days your neighborhood is scheduled for pick up, as vehicles can obstruct street sweepers from taking the leaves.

The city picks up about 400 tons of leaves each year during the two-week program. Last year, 365 tons of leaves were picked up, and 398 tons were picked up in 2017.

This year’s pickup schedule is a little later than usual because Thanksgiving falls in the final week of November, Grant said.

“We try to start doing pick-ups the first week after Thanksgiving,” she said. “That’s when we know people will be home for a holiday and they’ll start doing work around the house.”

Grant said a complete pickup schedule should be posted on www.lodi.gov before Dec. 2.

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