The leaves have started to fall in my neighborhood. This weekend I noticed some bad habits already starting to emerge early in this fall season. Yes, this column is very preachy and I must admit that I have an occasional sin from time to time, but these tips bear repeating over and over. We all have a role to play in protecting our water quality. So here are 10 simple things you can do to help protect our water.
1. Thou shall not sweep or blow leaves into the street or gutter.
2. Thou shall not blow grass clippings into the street or gutter.
3. Thou shall not mow grass clippings into bodies of water.
4. Thou shall not blow leaves into bodies of water.
5. Thou shall not mow next to bodies of water; instead leave a 5 to 10-foot buffer strip to catch organic matter, pesticides and fertilizer runoff.
6. Thou shall not spread fertilizer pellets onto hard surfaces. Always sweep or blow back onto the turf.
7. Thou shall not let pet waste lay: pick up and dispose.
8. Thou shall not blow your leaves onto thy neighbor’s property.
9. Thou shall not push leaves into storm drains.
10. Thou shall think how their actions affect the quality of our local lakes and streams which is our drinking water.
Here are the facts — if it is on the ground it is in our drinking water.
Organic debris, leaves and grass clippings break down, releasing nutrients such as nitrates and phosphorus that can harm fish and our water. Algae found growing during the summer on ponds and lakes is associated with excess fertilizers and pesticides that move into our water supply.
Water that flows from paved or hard surfaces into the storm drains is not treated. It flows directly into the nearby streams and eventually makes its way to the Kansas and Missouri rivers, our main source of drinking water.
Materials that are applied to the lawn are retained in the grass layer as the lawn acts as a sponge helping to soak up and keep the materials from reaching a water source. So as we go about our season-ending chores stop and think how our actions could impact a resource more precious than oil, and that is our water supply. Let’s all do our part for clean water and take a few extra minutes and make wise choices.