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Leaves Steep Like Tea
Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12

Leaf maintenance, beyond the curb appeal


Story By Andrew Kieckhefer
Local News Published 10/14/2021 7:07PM, Last Updated 10/15/2021 6:31PM
Merrill -
"We're brewing phosphorus tea in our curb line," says Wisconsin DNR water resource engineer Amy Minser as she compares leaves in ditches to tea in a dry pouch. Each scenario requires a source of water to activate the steeping process.

When rainfall occurs it can carry leaves down storm drains. That can populate rivers, lakes, and streams with those leaves. The steeping leaves then release phosphorus into the waterways. Phosphorus in the water can promote algae growth, impacting aquatic ecosystems.

"The main thing is we want to get the nutrients from the leaves back into the soil and not have it run off into the storm water," says Minser.

Minser says people can repurpose the leaves as mulch or as compost. They don't necessarily need to be raked and bagged up. Those that do want to bag up leaves and need assistance in disposing of them should turn to their local municipality.

"We do take in a couple thousand cubic yards in leaves every fall," says Dustin Bonack, street superintendent for the City of Merrill.

He says October is the busiest time for leaf collection and street cleaning, two critical components for an effective response to the fallen leaves.

Keeping the leaves out of roads and curbs also mitigates urban flooding after rainfall events.
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