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Paynesville Press - June 4, 2003

City residents urged to keep grass clippings off streets and sidewalks

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

City residents are reminded to properly dispose of their grass clippings and not to leave grass clippings on streets or sidewalks. While the practice may seem harmless, clippings blown onto the sidewalks or streets make their way into the city’s storm sewer system where they can cause problems and pollute.

Besides clogging storm sewers and creating maintenance and flooding problems for the city, grass clippings may contain fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Once they make their way through the storm sewer, they can pollute the Crow River, Rice Lake, and Lake Koronis.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, once grass clippings begin to decay in lakes and streams they release phosphorous and other nutrients that increase algae growth. Algae can form a scum on water that keeps sunlight from reaching aquatic plants. Also, as the algae die and decay, they use up oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life. The addition of lawn fertilizers hastens the process, according to the DNR.

Controlling clippings can be as easy as blowing clippings into the lawn instead of onto the street while mowing, said public works director Ron Mergen. Not only does this keep grass out of the storm sewers, it also adds organic matter to the lawn, said Mergen.

Composting grass clippings is another way to keep grass clippings out of the city’s storm sewers, added Mergen. Backyard composting within the city is allowed and encouraged, he said.

Also, the city maintains a compost facility where residents are welcome to dispose of grass clippings as well as other lawn and garden waste such as leaves and branches (no stumps).

The compost site is located two miles northeast of Paynesville on County Road 33, across from the city sewer ponds. Throughout the summer, the compost facility is open from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday evenings and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Residents of the city of Paynesville and residents of Paynesville Township may use the site free of charge.

Finished compost may also be picked at the facility.

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