Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Ripple Effects

Leaf Management

Did you know leaves that collect on our streets every fall can harm our waters?

More than 50% of the annual amount of phosphorus in urban stormwater can come from leaves in the street! When it rains, stormwater flows through leaf piles in streets creating a “leaf tea” that is rich in dissolved phosphorus. This "leaf tea" travels through storm sewers making its way to our lakes, rivers and streams. Too much phosphorus can lead to toxic algae blooms, low oxygen levels and green murky waters, none of which are good for animals living in the water or those of us who use it for recreation.

What You Can Do

  • Manage leaves on site to reduce the amount of leaf litter near the curb and street by mulching leaves into the lawn with a lawn mower or composting them.
  • Bag or cover any leaf piles on grass terrace that are awaiting pick up to prevent them from blowing into the street. Never place leaf piles in the street or driveway.
  • Remove any leaves that drop or collect in the street before the rain. Visit our Leaf-free Streets for Clean Waters program page to learn more or to sign up for rain alerts.