City leaders remind residents to avoid making ‘leaf tea’

City leaders remind residents to avoid making ‘leaf tea’
Chris Reece

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is encouraging residents to help avoid making “leaf tea.” It’s the substance created when leaves are left in the curb and gutter. Rainwater dissolves phosphorus off leaves left in the street and then enters into the stormwater system, which then flows into local waterways.

“We could make a really big impact on the quality of our lakes,” @SatyaForMadison. Mayor Rhodes-Conway says the city is doing a lot for leaf management but is asking residents to do the same. Rake your leaves to prevent phosphorus in our lakes

— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) October 23, 2019

Experts said “leaf tea” is bad because it allows phosphorus to enter our lakes, which causes toxic algae blooms.

At a news conference Wednesday, Rhodes-Conway and other city leaders encouraged homeowners to do their part by raking leaves into piles, and away from gutters to prevent creating the tea.

“More than 50 percent of the annual amount phosphorus in urban stormwater can come from leaves in the street,” the mayor said. “That’s a pretty significant contribution to the phosphorus that’s going into our lakes. If every person raked leaves before every rainstorm we could reduce phosphorus in our lakes by 50 percent.”

Rhodes-Conway encouraged residents to download an app to receive alerts when it’s about to rain, so you know when to rake. She said on average, there are eight rainstorms in the fall in our area.

City has street sweepers running 25% more often this year to prevent leaves/leaf residue known as “leaf tea” from entering the drain system and going into the lakes #news3now

— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) October 23, 2019

The city is also doing its part. They’ve increased street sweeping hours by 25 percent per week, meaning over 500 tons of additional materials, including leaves, have been removed from the street this year. They’ve also created a pilot program where in some areas of the city, cars are moved to one side on certain days to allow for a more thorough pickup.

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