CITIZENS URGED TO KEEP LEAVES OUT OF STREETS, STORM DRAINS AND DITCHES TO IMPROVE LOCAL WATER QUALITY

September 29, 2006
Anne Forbes, Friends of Lake Wingra, 257-3485 Carol Berglund, Friends of Starkweather Creek, 257-7158 Marcia Hartwig, Madison Area Municipal Storm Water Partnership, 224-3746 George Dreckmann, City of Madison Streets Division, 267-2626
Land & Water Resources

Friends of Lake Wingra, Friends of Starkweather Creek, the Madison Area Municipal Storm Water Partnership, the City of Madison and Dane County are joining together to ask citizens to keep leaves out of Dane County lakes and streams by keeping them out of the streets, storm drains and ditches. The “Love Your Lakes, Don’t Leaf Them” campaign, now in its third year, features yard signs on commuter streets and brochures distributed in libraries, on pizza delivery boxes, and at www.myfairlakes.com through October. “This kind of cooperation is great for raising awareness that leaves in the street end up in our lakes and streams,” says Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “More people are learning leaves contribute to the pollution of our lakes.” Friends of Lake Wingra volunteers are meeting at Zuzu’s Café, 1336 Drake Street, 3–5 p.m. on Sunday, October 1st to pick up “Love Your Lakes, Don't Leaf Them” yard signs for posting on commuter streets. “The Friends of Lake Wingra are pleased that the fall leaf cleanup campaign has become part of the community’s calendar,” says Friends of Lake Wingra member Anne Forbes. “We hope that this third year of placing yard signs along commuter streets brings a visual reminder that people easily recognize.” Although leaves seem “natural” and harmless, excess leaves pose a threat to Dane County’s lake and stream water quality. Leaves in the street are washed down storm drains and ditches and into nearby lakes and streams when it rains. Once they get into the water and begin to decay, leaves release nutrients contributing to the excess algae in the lakes, making water recreation a less than pleasant experience. Even if the leaves themselves don’t move, rain seeping through leaf piles and leaves crushed by car tires makes a rich “nutrient tea” that flows along the curb into the storm drains. The campaign urges residents to keep leaves out of the street and gutters, and offers alternatives to raking them to the curb by: · composting leaves for a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your gardens or till them directly into your garden. · chopping the leaves with your lawnmower into small particles that will decompose directly into your lawn. · raking leaves and collecting them at the edge of the street—but not in the street or ditch. Make sure to sweep or rake leaves out of the street, gutter or ditch so that they don’t get washed down the storm drain. Wet the leaves down or cover the leaves with a tarp or bag them to prevent them from blowing into the street. · Contact your local municipality for the leaf collection dates and requirements (bagging, covered on curb, etc.) for your neighborhood. “Keeping leaves out of the street is a simple but important action that we can all take to help improve water quality in our lakes and streams,” says Marcia Hartwig, Storm Water Education Coordinator for MAMSWaP. “The distance between your yard and the water’s edge is as close as the nearest storm drain or ditch. Everyone can help clean the lakes by keeping the leaves out of the street and storm drains.” Resources: § Fall leaf campaign: www.myfairlakes.com § City of Madison’s leaf pickup: www.cityofmadison.com/streets/collectionleaf.cfm § City of Madison’s composting: www.cityofmadison.com/streets/composting.cfm § For leaf pickup instructions outside Madison, call your local municipality. § Dane County’s compost sites: www.countyofdane.com and then click on the recycling symbol at the top of the page § Other information on managing yard waste: http://s142412519.onlinehome.us/uw/pdfs/GWQ022.PDF § Top Five ways to Help Dane County’s Lakes and Streams: www.danewaters.com/private/tips.aspx. # # #