As the weather gets warmer and spring yard cleanup begins, the Green Lake Association (GLA) wants to remind everyone to be responsible with their leaf litter to prevent polluting Green Lake.
After receiving multiple complaints from shoreline homeowners, the GLA confirmed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) that dumping or blowing leaves directly into the lake is considered littering and could be a citable offense.
Leaves, grass clippings, compost and general yard debris contain phosphorus — the nutrient responsible for Green Lake’s water quality issues.
When leaf litter or yard waste is dumped into the lake, into streams or into ravines that flush to the lake, it directly adds excess nutrients to the water and harms Green Lake’s water quality.
Phosphorus pollution from leaf litter can contribute to water quality problems such as low dissolved oxygen for aquatic life, harmful algae blooms and excessive aquatic plant growth.
Once leaves are blown or raked in the lake, they do not stay put. Often, waves and wind push them up onto a neighbor’s shore where they decompose into an unsightly sludge.
The community can help protect Green Lake’s water quality, and be a considerate neighbor, by never dumping or blowing leaves or lawn clippings into the lake.
It’s also important not to dump or blow leaves into streams or ravines that flush runoff to the lake during rainstorms.
For homeowners who use a lawn or landscaping service, confirming that the company used does not blow leaves from the property into the lake is an important step toward protecting the health of Green Lake.
Looking for a way to help lawns while helping the lake? Consider mulching leaves in place on the lawn to help nutrients stay on the land and out of the water. Composting leaves is another option for leaf management that can then be used to responsibly fertilize lawns or gardens.
By working together to keep leaves out of the lake, everyone can play a role in protecting Big Green.
If anyone is concerned about egregious or excessive leaf dumping occurring, call Brad Latza, Green Lake County WDNR conservation warden, at 920-807-4096. Since leaves quickly dissipate, pictures and/or videos of the potential citable offense may be helpful.
Jennifer Fjelsted is the communication and project manager for the Green Lake Association, a local not-for-profit that works to improve water quality for Green Lake.