Keep leaves out of the storm sewers
October 27, 2014
Fall is a beautiful time of year, but the general public often needs a gentle reminder to help with water quality by keeping leaves out of the storm sewers. It may be tempting to take a leaf blower and blast those excess leaves into the street (rather than mulching them or bagging them), but doing that puts more leaf debris into the storm sewers. Since storm sewers are generally unscreened and untreated before they dump into creeks and streams, those leaves end up decomposing and releasing nutrients into the water. Most riverbanks already have plenty of trees and don't need the additional nutrient loading, which can reduce water quality by adding phosphorus and nitrogen
that can encourage algae and kill fish. (Those decomposing leaves can also contribute to an unpleasant odor and taste
for people drinking water from river sources downstream.) Stormwater management
is an essential part of the water cycle, and careful management of organic material like leaves and grass clippings can help protect drinking-water resources.