By Anita Bible
It’s that time of year when many of our residents and the contactors they hire are discarding old and dead yard materials and preparing for the arrival of green lawns and spring plantings. In the past several months, I’ve received a number of questions, as well as a few complaints, about the manner in which we handle yard waste.
The following Q&A is designed to answer a few of those questions and provide timely direction on “best practices” in caring for your property. In some instances, there are no hard rules, but rather desired practices designed to maximize the beauty and environmental stewardship of the beautiful area you call home.
Q: Is it ok to blow grass and leaves into the streets and culverts or the lake?
A: No. It is not appropriate for homeowners or lawn care professionals to discard of grass clippings or fallen leaves by blowing them into the street, culverts or the lake. Of course, a certain volume of leaves naturally blow into these areas and are beyond our control. However, too many leaves or lawn debris in the storm water system or lake can cause an excessive amount of algae growth. While the Lake needs some algae for a healthy food chain, too much can cause an algae bloom, turning the lake water a thick pea green color with a foul odor. Some algae can release toxins that can harm humans, animal life and fish. But even with non-toxic algae, blooms can be harmful. As the overabundance of algae dies, it decays, causing bacteria to use up the oxygen in the water. This can kill fish and other aquatic life, ultimately harming sport fishing.
Q: What’s the best way to dispose of fallen leaves or grass clippings?
A: At Lake Quivira, you have a couple of good options for disposing of these materials. Both options provide an environmentally sound and inexpensive way for disposal while keeping these items out of landfills.
First, you can take advantage of composting by using a small area on your property. Composting takes no more effort than bagging the leaves and finding a corner in the yard to debag them on the ground. You can add kitchen waste, such as fruits and vegetables, but no meat or bones. Make sure the compost area is moist and turn it over from time to time. Over time, you will have the perfect material for mulching plants or bedding material. Using compost for mulch adds nutrients back into the ground that were taken out by the natural processes of the tree’s growth.
Another option is to put these materials in the large dumpsters provided by the City behind the tennis courts. Please note that only natural materials should be put into these dumpsters.
Johnson County Landfill turns these materials into compost at a separate location from the trash landfill. Deffenbaugh also has an on-site gas recovery facility, converting landfill gas, a natural by-product of waste decomposition, into natural gas used to heat and cool more than 5,000 area homes every day, thereby providing a locally created renewable source of energy.
Q: Can contractors utilize the dumpsters to dispose of yard waste?
A: No. The dumpsters are provided for use by residents only. According to the City of Lake Quivira’s Water Quality Guidance, mowing contractors are responsible for removing and disposing of excess grass clippings, fertilizer, chemicals and other waste. These materials should not be blown into the street, storm drains, ditches, steams, the lake or into any area where they will be picked up by storm water runoff.
If you would like a copy of these guidelines, or if you have any questions or concerns about these issues, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call at 913-631-7707, ext. 103. I recommend you provide a copy of the Guidelines to your mowing service provider.
A final note: Earth Day & The Fred Braun Clean-up Day will be April 22. The City is arranging for Deffenbaugh to send a truck for large item pickup. Watch for more information about activities scheduled on this day from the City.
In compliance with the Storm Water Management Program
This article is an effort to educate the public and increase awareness of water quality issues, both residential and business; create opportunities for the public to take direct action to improve the health and sustainability of the community; and build support for the program goals, making initiatives more effective.
Anita Bible-Property Manager