Reducing Leaf Litter Contributions of Phosphorus and Nitrogen to Urban Stormwater through Municipal Leaf Collection and Street Cleaning Practices

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5109
Prepared in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the City of Madison, Fund for Lake Michigan, Yahara Watershed Improvement Network, Dane County Land and Water Resources, Clean Lakes Alliance, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup
By: , and 

Links

  • Document: Report (2.11 MB pdf)
  • Appendix: Appendix 1 (1.67 MB pdf) — Paired-Basin Nutrient Loads in the Control and Test Catchments During Calibration and Treatment Phases
  • Data Release: USGS data release — Stormwater-quality data in the control and test catchments during the calibration and treatment phase of a leaf collection study in Madison, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, from September 2016 through November 2019
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core

Abstract

As the boundaries of urban land use continue to expand, environmental managers are looking for innovative ways to reduce export of nutrients from urban sources. Municipal services such as leaf collection and street cleaning have the potential to reduce nutrient pollution at its source while continuing to offer services valued by residents. This study characterized reductions of total and dissolved forms of phosphorus and nitrogen in stormwater runoff from paired catchments, testing the method and frequency of municipal leaf collection and street cleaning programs.

Overall, the performance of municipal programs was related to the frequency and not the form of treatment. Catchments receiving a weekly street cleaning by a regenerative-air street cleaner had the highest reduction in phosphorus load, ranging from 65 to 71 percent (probability value [p] is less than 0.05) for total phosphorus and 57 to 70 percent (p is less than 0.05) for dissolved phosphorus, regardless of leaf collection method or frequency. Reduction in nitrogen load was generally mixed, with many of the catchments showing no statistically significant changes after treatment. In general, nutrient concentrations, and subsequent percent reduction of nutrient loads, were positively correlated with street tree canopy. Collection of only leaf piles, leaving streets unswept, showed no significant reduction in loads of total or dissolved phosphorus and an 83 percent increase in load of total nitrogen. The majority of nutrient concentrations were in the dissolved fraction making source control through leaf collection and street cleaning more effective at reducing the amount of dissolved nutrients in stormwater runoff than structural practices such as wet detention ponds. Based on the results of this study, municipal leaf management programs would be most effective with weekly street cleaning in areas of high street tree canopy, whereas the method and frequency of leaf pile collection is of less importance to the mitigation of nutrients in stormwater runoff.

Suggested Citation

Selbig, W.R., Buer, N.H., Bannerman, R.T., and Gaebler, P., 2020, Reducing leaf litter contributions of phosphorus and nitrogen to urban stormwater through municipal leaf collection and street cleaning practices: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 5109, 17 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205109.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Nutrient Concentrations in Stormwater and Reduction in Nutrient Load from Municipal Leaf Collection and Street Cleaning Practices
  • Implications for Urban Stormwater Management
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Paired-Basin Nutrient Loads in the Control and Test Catchments During Calibration and Treatment Phases

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Reducing leaf litter contributions of phosphorus and nitrogen to urban stormwater through municipal leaf collection and street cleaning practices
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5109
DOI 10.3133/sir20205109
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 17 p.; Appendix; Data Release
Country United States
State Wisconsin
City Fond du Lac, Madison, Oshkosh
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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