As autumn descends, Whakatāne residents are urged to rake up leaves on their properties, and clear leaves and debris from nearby stormwater grates to avoid possible damage from surface flooding.

Council Manager Three Waters Infrastructure Tomasz Krawczyk says gutters are regularly swept to remove leaves and litter, but Council teams simply don’t have capacity to clear every street daily.

“Leaves blown from deciduous trees and then washed into road gutters by rain run-off, combined with more frequent rainfall, is an issue at this time of the year,” he says. “We’d love people to rake up leaves on their properties and also keep an eye on the stormwater grates in their neighbourhoods. If grates are obviously clogged with leaves and debris, it only takes a couple of minutes to clear them out, and that can make all the difference when heavy rain does arrive.”

Mr Krawczyk explains autumn leaves make good garden mulch, or can be raked up or collected in lawnmower catchers and either composted or disposed of in greenwaste bins. The removal of leaves from street gutters will allow the rain run-off to flow away and decrease the chance of surface flooding affecting nearby properties.

“It’s about being a good neighbour and all doing our bit to make sure we avoid any flooding issues,” he says. “Clearing fallen leaves from our footpaths and streets also keeps them safe for people walking and biking, as leaf-fall can create a slippery surface.”

Mr Krawczyk says anyone who notices a blocked grate, but isn’t able to clear it out, can contact the Council’s Customer Services team on 07 306 0500 for assistance.