A Red Letter Autumn for Metro Lakes

It was a red letter autumn for metro lakes.  Why should you be happy (and become engaged)?

Here’s the problem lakes face in the fall.  Leaves contain phosphorus.  Phosphorus, in excess, stimulates plant and algae growth.  That reduces lake water clarity and quality.

Many leaves accumulate on street edges and get washed into storm sewer drains. Leaves degrade, phosphorus is released and continues on to a stream or lake.  No rocket science needed to alleviate the problem.

From Anoka to St. Paul, from the service clubs to churches, scout groups to neighborhood associations, folks pitched in to protect our lakes.  The Anoka Rotary Club sponsored a clean-up that engaged volunteers from their club, Anoka Lions Club, Anoka-Ramsey Community College faculty and a Boy Scout troop.  The group delivered 300 bags of leaves to a compost site.

Five bags of leaves contain about one pound of phosphorus.  One pound of phosphorus can generate 500-1000 pounds of algae and plant mass.  The Anoka Rotarians and helpers prevented production of 30,000 pounds of algae and plant mass from degrading our waters.

Data from the many other groups is not all in.  But partial results reveal: 4537 bags of leaves collected, 90,740 pounds of leaves removed, 907,165 pounds of phosphorus removed.  884 volunteers chose to give our lakes a hand.

Kudos to the Freshwater Society for establishing the Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality Program”.  By establishing, supporting, and promoting these efforts, lake protection wins.  What a great gift to our lakes and ourselves if this leaf bagging program went viral across the state!

Why don’t we establish a “Protect our Lakes Holiday” each fall (spring, too) to openly express our “love” of our lakes?

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