The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance reminds lake property owners that dumping leaves into the lake is unhealthy for the lake. As lake front homeowners clean up their property over the Memorial Day weekend, please remember it is also illegal to dump leaves in Missouri lakes because of the additional nutrients they add to the lake. There can be a fine for illegal leaf dumping. According to Department of Natural Resources, DNR, Deputy Director of Communications Renee Bungart, DNR requests property owners to not add leaves to Missouri lakes.
Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance, LOWA, Project manager Caroline Toole says leaves in the lake produce high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen which can cause algae blooms, which are fast growing algae events, such as the one experienced in the James River Arm of Table Rock Lake. The Table Rock Lake blooms turned the water pea green and shut down the tourism business. The blooms can also lead to poison toxins in the water which can be harmful to humans and kill fish. Table Rock Lake currently is under very stringent nutrient limits with their wastewater treatment plants. It is very expensive to fix algae problems. "LOWA is working hard to help prevent algae blooms. It's a lot less expensive to prevent a problem than to try to fix it. The Lake of the Ozarks is healthy now and our LOWA programs are aimed to help keep it that way," said Toole.
Missouri law also bans leaves from land fills in order to reduce the amount of space used in landfills. Leaves and other yard waste should be properly disposed of at a compost facility. If anyone sees someone dumping leaves into the lake they can call the DNR Southwest Regional office at 417-891-4300. Once DNR is notified they will investigate the location to prove the infraction.
An environmentally sound and inexpensive way to dispose of the leaves is composting. Composting takes no more effort than bagging the leaves and finding a corner in the yard to place them. The best part of composting leaves is that the property owner will have the perfect material for mulching plants or bedding material. Mulching with the leaf compost adds nutrients back into the ground that were taken out. Property owners can also add kitchen waste, (no meat or bones), to make the compost more nutrient rich.
The other alternative for removing leaves is to hire a company to dispose of them.
For more information, go to www.sosLOWA.org or call the LOWA office at 573-374-1331.