One of the most annoying outgrowths of the deluge of spring and summer rain is high-standing water that leaves roads nearly, or entirely, impassable. And the culprit might be as close as the front lawn.

Homeowners who cut the quick-and-thick-growing grass and use a blower to send it into the streets solve their own short-term problems, says Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari, but they create potential long-term hazards as far away as Barnegat Bay.

"It's clogging the storm drains throughout Ocean County," he says, leaving water no route to retention basins and forcing it back out onto main and secondary roads.

Ocean County's Road Department maintains eight vacuum trucks to suck the debris out of the drains. But there are 10,000 of them to clear,

"Not only are they flooding roads and homes," Vicari says, "but we're getting an increase in mosquitos," which have handy nesting spots in stagnant puddles on the roads and gutters.

Finally, whatever clippings manage to drop through and travel the sewer lines are on a course for Barnegat Bay, which opens the potential for more of the pollution that has choked off natural marine vegetation and altered the ecosystem.

Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari (Townsquare Media NJ)

Vicari recommends raking and bagging the cuttings, or mulching them, which has the added benefit of nourishing soil. Many mowers are now equipped with blades that automatically mulch grass clippings.

The other major drain-cloggers, says Vicari, are cigarette butts. Many cars are no longer equipped with ashtrays, meaning an increasing number of drivers and passengers simply toss the residue onto the road from the car window.

"Please, if you are going to smoke while driving," says Vicari, "purchase a fireproof container for your car and empty the ash tray safely at home."