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County Executive's Office

Dane County Introduces New Text Alert System to Help Keep Local Waters Clean

October 10, 2017
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

Dane County and the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership are introducing a new leaf-free streets text alert system to help residents reduce the amount of urban runoff in area waters and keep our lakes clean. Keeping leaf litter off of streets before it rains can reduce the amount of algae producing phosphorus in urban stormwater by 80% in the fall, according to a leaf management study led by the U.S. Geological Survey in Dane County. By registering for alerts about approaching rain showers, Dane County residents can remove leaves in the street and do their part to keep our lakes healthy and combat the negative effects of urban runoff.


“Dane County is dedicated to cleaning up our lakes and looking for proactive ways to maintain their health,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “We all must do our part to ensure that Dane County’s waters can be enjoyed for generations to come.”


This alert system is one of many services Dane County offers to clean up area lakes. As part of Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2017 budget, a lakes clean up breakthrough was announced that will result in clean lakes decades sooner. The $12 million, four year project will clean up 33 miles of streams that feed phosphorus directly in the lakes on a daily basis. The work will remove 870,000 pounds of phosphorus, the chief culprit responsible for algae growth, from area waters.


When it rains, stormwater flows through leaf piles in streets creating a “leaf tea” that is rich in dissolved phosphorus. This “leaf tea” travels through storm sewers making its way to area waterways. Too much phosphorus can fuel toxic algae blooms that are harmful to people out enjoying the water and the animals living there. In fact, every pound of phosphorus removed from the county’s watershed prevents 500 pounds of algae from growing.


Join Dane County communities in keeping streets leaf-free this fall. It’s easy! Before the rain…


  1. Safely remove leaves from the street in front of your home.
  2. Follow your community's guidelines for leaf collection or recycle leaves on your property.  Many communities offer curbside leaf pick up or free access to yard waste drop off sites.
  3. Sign up to receive Leaf-free Streets Rain Alerts this fall (Oct. 1- Nov. 30). Alerts will be issued (via text or email) one to two days before a significant rain event reminding you that it is time to remove street leaves.


To learn more or to sign up for Leaf-free Streets Rain Alerts visit:


A few minutes before the storm can have ripple effects on local waters all year long!

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