Have you considered adopting your street in front of your home to protect water quality? One of the best ways to reduce pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams is to pick-up decaying organic matter (leaves, sand, etc.) and trash from city streets and parking lots before it has any chance to wash down in city stormwater drains. Contrary to popular belief, water entering these drains does not go to our wastewater treatment plant but goes straight to our lakes, creek and wetlands.
This is a serious problem for Minnesota lakes and rivers. Rain and melting snow carry leaves, yard debris, sand and trash from the streets into those waters. As the organic matter decays, excess phosphorus pollutes lakes and rivers. The phosphorus causes excessive growth of algae and decreases oxygen levels in the water. Water bodies with too much phosphorus are considered impaired or unhealthy. By cleaning up leaves in the spring, residents can significantly reduce pollution and protect water quality. It is estimated that five garbage bags filled with leaves or other organic matter equals about one pound of phosphorus, and that a single pound of phosphorus can yield up to 1,000 pounds of algae.
Trash reaching our waters is also a big problem. "In recent creek walks, (District) staff have found plastic bags, dumped leaf piles, plant pots, cans and tires to name a few - all in the creek" states Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District Administrator, Claire Bleser. All of these pollute are waters and contribute to the deterioration of our water bodies.
The Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District is seeking your help this Earth Day (April 22). Residents are being asked to clean up the stretch of street in front of their homes to protect our water resources. Explore our website for information on the health of local lakes and creeks, and for more tips on improving water quality.
[Photo credit: Capital Region Watershed District]