Rain, Leaves and Lakes Don’t Mix

What do leaves in the streets have to do with algae in the lakes? Rainfall and stormwater that run through streets and gutters leach phosphorus from fallen leaves and carry the nutrient-rich “tea” down the storm drains and straight to the lakes. Phosphorus is the nutrient that drives algae growth; so let’s do our part to stop leaf litter leaching!


What you can do: 

  1. Mulch fallen leaves into your lawn with a lawnmower.

  2. Gather fallen leaves out of the street and storm drains and onto the terrace.

  3. Check your municipality’s website for leaf pick-up dates and time your raking to minimize leaves’ time on the curb.This fall, we can all do our part to reduce urban phosphorus runoff to our treasured lakes. Through the Yahara CLEAN Strategic Plan for Phosphorus Reduction, our community has set the goal of reducing 4100 pounds of phosphorus loading through urban leaf management.  With one pound of phosphorus producing 500 pounds of algae, those reductions could have a huge impact on our lakes.

Remember – leaves off the street means less algae in the lakes.

Yahara Lakes 101: Leaves and Lakes  
Please join us next Thursday, November 14th for Yahara Lakes 101 featuring Bill Selbig of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) presenting “Leaves and Lakes: Urban Phosphorus Runoff”. The USGS and city of Madison are currently in the midst of a research study to determine whether changes in leaf management practices — such as leaf collection and street sweeping — can reduce the impacts of urban phosphorus loading to our lakes. Join us Thursday morning to learn more.

Numerous studies have identified that organic detritus and particulate matter, such as fallen and decaying leaves, can act as a major source of the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen — especially in urban areas with dense overhead tree canopy. The primary objective of the USGS/Madison project is to quantify changes in phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations and load as a result of existing or improved leaf collection practices compared to no practices. Water-quality samples will be collected from four study sites to determine if water-quality benefits are realized by a leaf collection and street cleaning program, and to what extent.

We hope to see you Thursday morning for education and discussion on lakes and leaves!

DATE: Thursday, November 14, 2014

7:30 a.m. – Coffee & Breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Presentation
9:00 a.m. – Q&A

LOCATION:  Bluephies’ Cafe on Level B at Verex Building 150 East Gilman St. Madison, WI 53703

Fore more information and to register for the event please visit the Yahara Lakes 101 Page.

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