The City of Abilene’s Stormwater Services Division is committed to providing clean streets as it is an integral part of street maintenance and water quality. Sweeping complies with the regulatory requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act, the municipal (NPDES) permit, and the City’s Stormwater Management Plan.
Street sweeping benefits the community by collecting and removing debris (paper, leaves and other visible objects) that collect in the gutters. This debris can block storm water inlets causing localized flooding during heavy rain events along with polluting our local waterways and eventually our lakes. An equally important, but less visible, benefit is the removal of metal particles, oil and other hazardous products left behind by passing and parked vehicles. Although virtually invisible, these particles can be extremely harmful to the environment.
Residential street sweeping is a City service that operates with three primary objectives:
- Reduce the amount of pollutants that get into stormwater runoff and pollute our waterways.
- Prevent leaves, debris and litter from clogging the storm drain system.
- Provide a clean, aesthetically pleasing appearance to Abilene neighborhoods.
The street cleaning program sweeps over 1,600 miles of curbed streets within the City of Abilene, including residential streets and major arterial roads. Street sweeping removes approximately 2,000 cubic yards of debris and contaminants annually from the streets that would otherwise remain in the street and eventually end up our waterways.
Why wasn’t street sweeping completed in front of my house?
There are many reasons why the sweeper may not have been able to remove debris from your street. Most often, it’s because items such as cars, bicycles, toys, basketball hoops, and refuse containers are blocking the roadway.
Often times, vehicles are parked too close to each other for the sweeper to maneuver between them (one parked car equals nearly three car lengths of space that can’t be swept because the street sweeping equipment must leave room to avoid it, which can result in debris building up).
Low-hanging trees and shrubs can also prevent sweepers from cleaning in front of your house. Additionally, the street sweepers cannot remove grass, and the resulting dirt buildup, that is growing in the gutter; if a large amount of grass (clumps) is growing in the curb-line the sweeper will maneuver around this area to sweep areas of the street that can be cleaned.
How can I help the street sweepers?
Keeping the roadway in front of your house free of large objects and obstructions is the best way to assist street sweeping crews' clean-up efforts.
- Remove large sticks and branches from the roadway in front of your house. They will jam and possibly damage the sweeper's operating system.
- Remove grass or weeds that grow in the gutter. This will reduce debris in front of your house and will improve water runoff during rainstorms.
- Do not sweep anything into the gutter or street. Blowing leaves, grass, and dirt into the gutter makes it difficult for the sweeping crews to clean the streets and it is a violation of City’s Stormwater Ordinance. Rake leaves and either compost them, bag them and place in the dumpster, or take them to the City’s Abilene Brush Center located at 2159 Sandy Street off of East HWY 80.
- Avoid wet cleaning activities which can flush debris into the street and gutters. Utilize dry cleaning methods wherever possible and dispose of debris in an appropriate refuse container.
- Report abandoned autos to the City's Code Enforcement Division at 325-676-4590.
- Properly trim your street trees so the sweeper can clean next to the curb. Trees should be trimmed to a height of 13 and one half foot at the curb-line. This will also allow for easy access of trash pickup vehicles.
- Organize and/or participate in neighborhood clean ups.
- Tell your children the benefits of a clean neighborhood and encourage them to dispose of litter properly.
Why does the City only clean streets with curbs?
The City cleans only streets with curbs. The accumulation of debris at the curb is caused by the design of the street and vehicular movement. Streets are designed with a crown in the middle sloping toward the sides. Water and debris move toward the curb and gutter areas. Vehicle movement scatters debris to the edges of traffic lanes.
Streets with no curbs are affected by the same factors as curbed streets, but with no curb the debris is dispersed onto areas adjacent to the paved surfaces. Uncurbed streets are, in effect, self-cleaning. Additionally, street sweeping with no curb and gutter can actually create more problems as the brushes pull the dirt and debris from the side of the street onto the asphalt.
Why does the City provide limited public notification of street cleaning schedules?
The City does not currently have the tools to provide citywide time-specific information about our street sweeping schedule. Any attempt to provide a schedule online or through the mail would almost certainly result in a frustrated public because too many factors beyond our control always result in delays to our street sweeping schedule. Some street re-paving projects and some roadway construction projects do provide letters to residents about an anticipated work schedule.
Therefore, the City uses a zone-rotation concept to ensure all roads within the city limits receive a fair amount of coverage. Sweeper operators rotate through 42 zones (17 on the north side and 25 on the south side), which contain over 1,700 standard lane miles of roads. The amount of debris in each zone dictates the speed at which an operator is able to complete a sector; therefore, it is quite difficult to calculate exactly when a street sweeper will be in your neighborhood. You may monitor the location of the street sweeping crew by using the city's Education/Government Channel available on Suddenlink Cable 2 or Broadcast Channel 7 KXN-TV. Four street sweepers are presently in operation on a full time basis (three during the day and one during the evening). For More Information call 676-6048
The following factors frequently disrupt our street cleaning rotation:
- Weather - heavy rainfall, wind storm, snow and ice
- Equipment breaks down
- Utility work by other agencies
- Private construction activities in the public rights of way
- Other street maintenance and road repair activities
- Parked cars on both sides of the street
- How dirty the street is - extra debris in the street delays a crew
- Overhanging tree limbs that prohibit our crews from getting to the curb to clean a street - sometimes overhanging tree limbs prohibit our equipment from accessing a street
- Heavy leaf fall
- Employee emergencies - unexpected absences due to illness, family emergencies, or other emergencies
In addition, the expense of notification - signage, mailings, barricading - to get vehicles parked on one side or the other of a street is cost prohibitive.