web-leafs-grassFalling leaves are lovely to watch, but did you know they are a serious pollutant for our local waters? When leaves and other organic debris from our yards, driveways, and sidewalks are washed down our storm sewers they are carried to our local lakes and rivers, untreated and unfiltered. Tons of debris gets into our waters this way – far more than is natural and far more than our waters can keep up with. Once in the water, organic debris releases phosphorus and nitrogen. This fuels noxious algae blooms that degrade water quality and harm lake and river ecosystems and aquatic life.

Instead of raking the leaves into the street, you can collect them and use them as mulch in your garden, compost them, or bring them to a nearby compost site. By raking and bagging debris from your yard and curb each spring and fall, you can help decrease the amount of debris that makes its way into our water bodies and help improve the quality of our lakes and rivers!

Information on where to take your yard waste can be found by visiting the Recycling & Waste page. And after you've collected all your leaves, enter the number of bags you collected on the Freshwater Society website, so we can track how much debris has been collected citywide.