Why picking up leaves is more important than you probably thought | Environment
Rain and wind. NOW it feels like Fall.
So with that in mind, it's a good time to think about an annoying chore that many of you will be doing in the coming days. That chore of course is picking up leaves. A necessary evil of home ownership, but also a major factor in water pollution prevention. And after you read this, you'll realize that you actually live on "riverfront property"
Leaves are harmless, right? Totally natural. So how do they contribute to water pollution you ask?
Wind blown leaves that make their way to the streets combine with leaves that naturally fall in to the street, creating excessive amounts of leaves that end up being washed down storm drains and in to the Spokane River where they begin to decay, and release nutrients contributing to the excess algae in lakes like Lake Spokane.
Even if the leaves themselves don’t move, rain seeping through leaf piles and leaves crushed by car tires makes a rich “nutrient tea” that flows along the curb into the storm drain system.
It's simple, here are some things you can do to help make a difference.
Adding leaves to a compost pile creates an inexpensive and nutrient-rich fertilizer for your vegetable and flower gardens.
Leaves can be tilled directly into a garden, contributing valuable organic matter.
If you have a mulching mower, you can chop the leaves into small particles that will decompose directly into your lawn. If you have a bagger on your mulching mower, you can use the leaves to mulch flowerbeds and shrubs.
Many of us rake the leaves for curbside pickup. If you do, collect the leaves at the edge of the curb - not in the gutter or ditch. Make sure to sweep or rake any leaves out of the street, gutter or ditch.
Keeping leaves out of the street is a simple but important action that we can all take to help improve water quality in the Spokane River and other area waterbodies. The distance between your yard and the River's edge is as close as the nearest storm drain. Everyone can help clean the Spokane River by keeping the leaves out of the street and storm drains.