Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Show the Lakes and Rivers Some Love! Keep Leaves Out of the Street

September 30, 2013
Marcia Hartwig, Madison Area Municipal Storm Water Partnership, 608-224-3746,,
Land & Water Resources

As the kids get back into the routine of school and football is back on the schedule, it’s time to keep the leaves out of the street as well. Leaves in the street this fall means green lakes next summer. By keeping leaves and other yard waste out of the street, you are proudly displaying your love of Dane County’s lakes and streams.

Leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste in the street can get washed directly to the nearest lake or stream via storm drains when it rains. Even if the leaves never move, rain water running over and through them makes a nutrient-rich tea that’s carried directly to the storm drains promoting algae growth.

Easy alternatives to raking include mulching leaves with your mower directly on your lawn, raking them around trees and shrubs, or composting them. Shredded leaves are a natural fertilizer returning nutrients to your lawn. Composted leaves are great mulch for gardens.

If you rake your leaves to the curb, keep them on the terrace, not in the street. Check with your municipality for curbside collection dates and other requirements so that your leaves are at the curb for as short a time as possible.

No matter how far you live from the water’s edge, storm drains lead to the nearest lake, river or stream. So, when you see someone keeping leaves out of the street, you know they’re showing their love for the lakes, rivers and streams by keeping algae-feeding nutrients out of our surface waters. Get your very own yard sign from your town/village/city hall. Get more information on leaves and lawn care at

The Madison Area Municipal Storm Water Partnership is working with the Rock River Stormwater Group to reduce the amount of pollution making its way to our lakes and streams. The Yahara chain of lakes and the Yahara River both ultimately drain to the Rock River. Both groups thank you for helping to Renew the Rock by reducing stormwater pollution throughout the Rock River area. Learn more at and