Get Out the Rakes and Fight Phosphorus!

 

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Remember the days when folks raked the boulevard leaves into the street? A big street sweeper from the city would come by leaving the street looking tidy. Those days are so over.

For one thing, it’s the law in St. Paul: “Depositing any material (i.e. leaves) from the boulevard or private property into the street is prohibited. Municipal Code Section 106.02” For another, it’s common sense. As a city neighborhood, St. Anthony Park sheds water like a raincoat in a downpour. There are plenty of hard surfaces – streets, sidewalks, alleys and parking lots that drain storm water to surrounding lakes and the Mississippi River. The leaves and plants from our yards never get a chance to break down into soil, as they would naturally. Instead, leaves, grass clippings, soil get washed by stormwater runoff into street gutters and storm sewers, and straight into the lakes and rivers.

The result of this ‘rainwater river’ of debris is that bodies of water in our watershed area, the Mississippi River and Como Lake for example, get overwhelmed and “impaired” (according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) by excessive concentrations of phosphorus, a chemical by-product as plant matter decays. Check out the murky green algae growth in Como Lake caused by phosphorus. This isn’t good for the health of our rivers and lakes.

We residents who live on the streets that drain to our river and lakes can reduce phosphorus at the source, by preventing organic debris from getting into storm drains in the first place. St. Paul’s street sweepers still come through (about 8 times a year from spring to fall) but now residents are asked to do their part to keep the gutters as clear as possible of leaves and grass in between sweepings.

We will be doing a week-long, DIY community leaf cleanup the week of October 13-20; we’ll have free compostable bags, snacks, instructions, and a limited number of rakes available for pickup at the following times:
Saturday, October 13, 9am-12pm at Park Midway Bank (2300 Como) I will be there!
Monday, October 15, 3-6pm at the South St. Anthony Rec Center (890 Cromwell)
You can do your leaf collection at any point during the week of October 13-20.
St. Anthony Park’s Community Council is working with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to report a tally of the amount of leaves raked up from the boulevards.
Please report the number of bags you collected from your boulevard by emailing lauren@sapcc.org or calling 651-649-5992.

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