Community members can support water quality with daily living habits

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JEFFERSON CITY – The Department of Public Works Stormwater Division wants to remind community members about ways to help the water quality in the area.

The Stormwater Division works to protect the health and safety of people in Jefferson City by managing the water from precipitation.

Leaves clog stormwater drains

As property owners are maintaining their land this season, the city encourages residents to dispose of raked leaves in the four following ways:

  • Compost leaves to use as mulch and fertilizer around trees, flower beds or gardens on people’s own property.
  • Take them to the city’s contracted community compost facility at 2417 Southridge Drive.
  • Burn the leaves when conditions outside are appropriate for burning. The open burning season is during daylight hours November 1, 2016 through March 1, 2017.
  • Mulch leaves in place when the yard is dry using a lawn mower suitable for mulching in order to skip the leaf raking process entirely.

It is a violation of city code to rake leaves into the street or stormwarter system, which includes open channels.

Raking leaves into the street can clog grates and block the flow of stormwater into the drainage system.

The division also warns against disposing leaves in creeks.

Chemicals pollute local water

When leaves are accumulated on creek banks, they can accelerate bank erosion by suffocating the vegetation’s roots holding the soil in place.

In addition to what falls naturally, when large amounts of leaves are left in creeks, the decomposition process can decrease the oxygen for certain insects, fish and amphibians.

During these snowy winter months, the city recommended residents avoid using large amounts of salt or other chemical melting solutions on sidewalks and driveways.

People can save money by not overusing chemicals, the excess of which are carried into creeks and rivers when the snow melts or when it rains.

The Stormwater Division suggested residents never put anything, such as pet and yard waste, in stormwater inlets, open channels or other drainage ways.

Pollutants carried by stormwater can negatively impact other waters because it is not treated before it enters creeks, rivers or ponds.

The division advised people with vehicles that leak oil or other fluids to park off the pavement or contain leaks in drip pans.

It encouraged people to get rid of the liquid properly to ensure it doesn’t wash into the stormwater drainage system.

Pet waste causes health hazards

The city requested that pet owners pick up their animals' waste and dispose of it correctly.

Rain can wash bacteria from pet waste into storm water inlets, open channels or other drainage ways and pollute the storm water, causing health hazards.

Residents who put pet waste down stormwater inlets are violating the city code.

To dispose of pet waste, people should put it in the trash or bury it in a hole that is at least five inches deep and away from gardens or water ways.

Gerald Verslues, a local dog watcher, said there is a certain way to handle things at the dog park.

“I have gotten to know it fairly well over the last couple years. And when you come out here, there’s a standard. There are bags here, there are things to pick up your dog’s waste and it is asked to put it in them containers.”

Bill Ratliff, a new dog owner, said he understands his responsibility to keep the community clean.

“We keep [our dog] on a pretty tight leash, especially when we're out in public, and we always bring along things to pick up after her in case she has a problem some place along the way. But it’s just a matter of habit to do that. I think we’ve developed the habit now."

Matt Morasch, director of the public works department, said he believes these steps are critical for water quality.

“Many people don't realize where their stormwater goes, so we want to make sure that people have a reminder that, yeah, if it rains at your house that water eventually ends up in the Missouri River and all the way to the ocean, right? But it's got to filer through our creeks and streams on the way there. And there's public contact all along the way, and people, drinking water sources, all of those things,” Morasch said.

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