Spring is just around the corner! We’ll all be starting our lawn clean-ups soon! That means 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 coming soon and the first yard waste pick-up of the year is April 12-16, 2021. For the full yard waste pick-up schedule please visit the Health Department’s page here.
- 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 Information Hub Page
- See our leaf litter brochure, and also our lawn fertilizer and grass clippings brochures, also available in our office
- Mystic River Watershed Association Web Page