Water Quality: Don’t Blow It!

For the next part of the Town’s stormwater public education initiative, Maynard officials are reminding residents to avoid blowing yard waste like grass clippings and leaf litter into the streets, storm drains, wetlands, and other water bodies.

As the weather gets warmer and more people are working in their yards, it is important to understand the stormwater problems associated with yard work. “If you blow or sweep your grass clippings or leaf litter into the street, it eventually gets into our streams, wetlands, and even the Assabet River” says Kaitlin Young, Maynard’s Conservation Agent and Assistant Town Planner. “This can have a devastating effect on water quality and the overall ecosystem, and can even cause flooding issues.”

When grass clippings and leaf litter get into the stormwater system and eventually into our wetlands and the Assabet, it can cause water quality problems. Nutrients from dead and decaying plant matter, like nitrogen and phosphorus, promote the growth of algae and aquatic weeds, threaten the lives of native plants and animals, and can cause declines in water quality. “Aquatic plant and algae overgrowth leads to the depletion of oxygen in the water, which harms the fish and other organisms living there”, says Young.  “Plus, algae blooms can make water discolored and foul smelling, and even in some cases can cause health problems for people.” Furthermore, grass clipping and other yard waste blown in the street can cause localized flooding by clogging curb inlets and pipes.

Maynard is stepping up to stop pollutants from entering our local waters by participating in the “Think Blue Massachusetts” campaign. The campaign is a statewide effort to help residents and businesses do their part to reduce polluted runoff and keep our state’s lakes, rivers, and streams clean and healthy.

How can you manage your lawn to help keep our waters clean?

  • Do not blow, sweep, dump, direct, or place yard debris into any street, storm drain, ditch, wetland, or water body.
  • Blow yard waste back onto a landscaped area so it does not wash into storm drains. “It is best to leave your uncollected grass clippings on the lawn”, says Young. “The clippings decompose quickly and provide important nutrients for your lawn, helping to reduce the use of fertilizer, which can also cause water quality issues.”
  • If you do clean up the yard waste, contain it for yard waste pick up days. Avoid placing your yard waste in the regular trash.
  • Set your mower height to a higher setting because taller grass slows the rate of runoff and will produce a deeper and denser root system, which also helps the grass survive better during drought.

For more tips on how to do your part to keep our waterways clean, visit www.thinkbluemassachusetts.org. For more information on stormwater in Maynard visit our Stormwater Management page.