Fall Foliage and Nutrient Related Stormwater Challenges
While fall in Virginia presents us with cooler weather and breathtaking foliage, it also brings specific stormwater management challenges.
Challenge: Fallen Leaves
One of the most enchanting aspects of fall is the cascade of leaves that adorn our surroundings. However, these fallen leaves have an unintended consequence: nutrient pollution. When rainwater washes over fallen leaves, it carries away essential nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients then find their way into our rivers and streams through our stormwater conveyance systems, causing detrimental effects such as harmful algal blooms, oxygen depletion, and harm to aquatic life.
Solution: Be Mindful of Your Lawn Care
Keeping your yard-debris free can help mitigate nutrient runoff associated with leaves. Avoid piling leaves near storm drains when tending to your yard, as this can exacerbate nutrient pollution and lead to blockages and flooding during rain events. Also, avoid raking them into the street or sidewalks where they can be easily swept into the stormwater conveyance system. Do not leave your leaves once piled; compost them, or bag them up and dispose of them by placing them in your trash. Additionally, avoid over fertilizing your lawn or garden in the fall, as it can contribute to excess nutrients in our water systems. Save the nutrients for the spring when your garden wakes up and truly needs them.
Practicing mindful lawn care during the fall allows us to cherish autumn’s beauty while protecting our watersheds from excess nutrients.
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