GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WBAY) – This can be a fun activity you do with your kids or your partner, but raking leaves has environmental benefits as well. Cleaning storm sewers by raking leaves can create safer water for us and local wildlife.
“By keeping these storm sewers clear, we are helping the drainage of our communities,” said Erin Houghton, watershed program manager for NEW Water. “But, by keeping them clear, we also keep that rainwater and precipitation meltwater cleaner, because what goes into a storm sewer and ultimately goes to our local rivers and bays is by no means treaty.”
The purpose of a storm drain is to collect rain, sleet, or ice, but it does not filter excess material. Excess phosphorus and soil sediment enter the water, which can block sunlight on aquatic vegetation. Plus, create bodies of water like the Fox River, a milk-like chocolate color that keeps things like algae from growing.
âWithin a community, I think we all take for granted the level of impact we have on our local waterways,â Houghton said. âAn example of this is taking storm sewers for granted and what they do and how they help us, but ultimately what their main purpose is. “
NEW Water explained how mindful it is to be aware while raking storm drains to help stop this excessive runoff.
âWe really want to make sure they take safety into account,â said Adam Butry, health, safety and security coordinator for NEW Water. âThey should be wearing high-visibility colors, whether it’s a traffic vest or a shiny neon shirt like I’m wearing now. Always make sure that you pay attention to the traffic around you, especially if you live on a busy street. You should never turn your back on oncoming traffic.
NEW Water is launching a new program due to the need for a better way to comply with water utility requirements that will reduce harmful materials in the water. Taking a preventative approach like raking drains before they get clogged will hopefully reduce these pollutants.
Although this fall has been warmer than usual so far, many leaves are still falling. Cleaning the storm sewers near your home that send water directly to our local rivers and bays will keep the waterways less polluted and protect the wildlife that have made their home in the water.
“By having excess nutrients and sediment in our waterways here in northeastern Wisconsin, these two problems are really a primer for causing the excessive algal blooms that we see especially in the rivers of the lower part of Green Bay in summer, âHoughton pointed out. “We also sometimes see very cloudy chocolate brown water when it is not green.”
The darker water color due to excess nutrients from the leaves blocks sunlight. Smother aquatic vegetation and harm our natural ecosystem.
If you’re ready to help, contact your local municipality to find out more about where you can deposit your extra time off.
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