As the leaves are falling now, it’s a good time to remember that fallen leaves can clog catch basins and add too much organic material to our waterways all at the same time!
Bag or compost your leaves, but do not rake them into the street or dump them down storm drains! Blocking storm drains can cause flooding, and large amounts of leaves in our water can lead to an excess of decaying organic material in waterways with results that are harmful to both humans and animals.
Why do leaves cause water pollution???
Left on land, leaves decompose, feeding your plants and enriching your soil. But when large amounts of leaves are washed off our lawns, down our driveways, into storm drains, and into our water bodies — they release phosphorus and nitrogen into our water, contributing to water pollution.
These elevated levels of nutrients in our water:
- Cause “blue-green algae”, or cyanobacteria blooms, which are toxic to both humans and wildlife and are considered a public health hazard
- Kill fish through the depletion of oxygen in the water, called “eutrophication”
- Cause the growth of large amounts of algae and invasive plants, choking up the waterway
What can YOU do?
Keep leaves out of the storm drain and your rivers, lakes, and ponds!
- Bag your leaves for curbside pick-up. Yard waste pick up weeks are November 16-20 and the last yard waste pick-up of the year is November 30-December 4, 2020, so you have several more opportunities to get rid of those leaves properly!
- Mix your leaves into your compost pile, creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.
- Check to make sure catch basins near you aren’t clogged with leaves. This could lead to local flooding and ice build-up during and after storms.
Use a mulching mower and create mulch from your leaves to use in flower beds.
For more information on storm water:
- Please visit our Stormwater Web Page
- See our leaf litter brochure, also available in our office
- Mystic River Watershed Association Web Page