Allen County residents are no strangers to ushering red and orange leaves to the street during the Fall. This can mean loads of fun for kids, extra work for homeowners, and excess nutrients for our rivers. To help reduce extra phosphorus from entering our waterways, Allen County Partnership for Water Quality is challenging residents to rethink how they dispose of their leaves this season.

Leaves falling from the trees is a natural phenomenon, but it can lead to unnatural amounts of nutrients entering our waterways. Historically, leaves had the chance to decompose letting that organic matter feed the nearby soils. Today much of that organic matter breaks down and goes through concrete tunnels to our waterways. This can become a serious problem due to the phosphorus found in decomposing leaves. It is estimated that 5 bags of leaves can create as much as 1 pound of phosphorus, which can produce 1,000 pounds of algae downstream. To limit stormwater pollution, consider mulching or composting leaves to use in next year’s gardens and landscaping. This can help reduce future fertilizer runoff and costs for homeowners.

When you have reached your mulching and composting limits, begin moving excess leaves towards the street. However, we challenge you to keep your leaves off the street until the day before pickup. When decomposing leaves are left on lawns, they can help nourish the soil while giving rain the chance to filter before running off into the street. This allows nutrients a chance to settle in your soil instead of being flushed away during a rain event. In addition to helping limit nutrients entering our waterways, this also helps to decrease localized flooding.

Localized flooding is caused by rainwater that is inadequately able to drain. One common blockade seen in and around storm drains is leaves that are stacked near, on, or around the drain. This flooding can cause unsafe conditions for those biking or driving through high waters. To help prevent these events, keep storm drains clean!

Help do your part and let us let leaves be the only thing falling this Fall. If you are interested in more ways you can help keep stormwater clean, please visit acwater.org.

POSTED: 09/24/19 at 11:19 am. FILED UNDER: News