If you love Como Lake, then you probably noticed, with a tinge of lament, all the algae covering the lake this summer.
The cause of the algae scourge is excess phosphorous in Como Lake’s water. There’s so much that Como Lake is on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s list of impaired waters.
Did you know that a major contributor to Como Lake’s excess phosphorous problem is organic material? And did you know the source of this organic material is our own neighborhood streets?
Take a look around and you’ll notice the line of leaves, grass clippings, twigs and dirt pressed up against our street curbs, waiting for the next rainstorm to wash them down the storm sewer drain. Tons of this stuff gets washed into storm sewers every year and empties into Como Lake and the Mississippi River. When this organic material breaks down in the water, it releases phosphorous and this, in turn, fuels the overgrowth of tons and tons of algae.
According to the Freshwater Society, just five bags of leaves can contain 1 pound of phosphorous, which, in turn, can fuel as much as 1,000 pounds of algae.
Image by massdistraction via Flickr
The Como Lake Neighbor Network (CLNN) is organizing a neighborhood event to help stop this “nutrient pollution” at the source.
On Oct. 16, Como neighbors will be asked to grab some gloves, a rake or broom and some garbage bags and sweep up the organic material along the stretch of curb in front of their home. Neighbors should then count the bags they’ve filled, write this number down, and then either compost what they’ve bagged in their own bin, use it as landscaping mulch or take it to the Ramsey County Yard Waste Site. Or if you happen to be in the CLNN project area (you’ll get a brochure if you are), you can leave your bags on the boulevard for pick up by the Curbside Cleanup Crew.
We encourage you to go to Freshwater Society’s webpage, click the “Community Clean-Ups” button and report the number of bags you filled (select the St. Paul, Como community). The Freshwater Society will calculate for each community how many pounds of phosphorus and pounds of algae they have prevented from their local lake or river. After Oct. 16, CLNN will report on the Como Park Community Council website how much nutrient pollution the Como Park neighborhood has prevented from Como Lake and the Mississippi River.
Also involved in the Como Lake Curbside Cleanup are the Capitol Region Watershed District, St. Paul Public Works, District 10 Environment Committee, Como Park High School, Hamline University Friends of the Minnesota Valley, Freshwater Society and the Citizens League of Minnesota.
Janna Caywood is the founder and coordinator of the Como Lake Neighborhood Network.