How you can help keep lakes clean this fall

Published: Oct. 20, 2017 at 1:38 PM CDT
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There’s no doubt Madison’s in the peak of its autumn beauty, but as the leaves continue to fall Dane County and the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership along with the Clean Lakes Alliance are asking people to sweep the leaves out of the street before a rainstorm.

"The water runs through those leaves and it’s sort of like a tea affect. It takes the nutrient from the leaf right into the storm sewer," said Adam Sodersten with the Clean Likes Alliance.

The nutrient Sodersten is referring to is called phosphorus. Phosphorus creates the dangerous blue-green algae that's closed lakes over the summer.

"1 pound of phosphorus creates 500 pounds of algae," said Sodersten.

The leaves on the lawn won’t cause any harm. Also, if there’s no rain leaves in the street are okay, but before a storm the best way to help is to safely remove the leaves from the curbs and street-sewers.

Dane County knows clearing the leaves isn't the first thing people think about when they hear a storm is coming, so they’ve launched a call to action.

"You can sign up for e-mail alerts or texts just alerting you when rain is on the way. It’s just a reminder to remove the street leaves,” said the county’s stormwater education coordinator, Christal Campbell.

The county’s hope is that leaf clearing become routine, so the fall pollution stops hurting lakes come summer.

"The more people can know about it, we think the more that they’re going to take action," said Sodersten.

To sign-up for text of e-mail alerts click