Leaf-free Streets for Clean Waters

Leaf-free Streets Rain Alerts - Sign up!   Keeping our streets leaf-free before the rain can have a Ripple Effect on our waters! Sign up to receive alerts reminding you when rain is on the way and it’s time to take action.  Alerts will be sent via text (or email) 1-2 days before a rain event reminding you that it’s time to remove street leaves. Alerts will only be sent between Oct. 1st – Nov. 30th  during peak leaf fall. ***This program is only available to Dane County residents or businesses.***

Click HERE for E-MAIL Alerts   Click HERE for TEXT Alerts 

Did you know leaves that collect on our streets every fall can harm our waters?

More than 50% of the annual amount of phosphorus in urban stormwater can come from leaves in the street! When it rains, stormwater flows through leaf piles in streets creating a “leaf tea” that is rich in dissolved phosphorus. This "leaf tea" travels through storm sewers making its way to our lakes, rivers and streams. Too much phosphorus can lead to toxic algae blooms, low oxygen levels and green murky waters, none of which are good for animals living in the water or those of us who use it for recreation.


CLA video, leaves in street impacts and solutions

The City of Madison and United States Geological Survey (USGS) are partnering on a study to determine the effectiveness of various street leaf removal efforts in reducing phosphorus to our waters. Click on the video link above to learn more or view the USGS Leaf Collection Study website

leaf free streets yard sign request

Join us in keeping streets leaf-free! 

In the fall, timely removal of street leaf litter can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban stormwater by 80% compared to no leaf removal! Communities across Dane County are working hard to reduce stormwater pollution to protect our waters, but they can't do it alone. You can help!

  1.  Safely Remove leaves from the street in front of your home before it rains.
  2.  Follow your community's guidelines for leaf collection or recycle leaves on your property. Many communities offer curbside leaf pick up or free access to yard waste drop off sites. 

            Municipal Leaf Collection Guidelines

            Household Leaf Recycling Tips

       3.  Sign up to receive Leaf-free Streets Rain Alerts this fall (Oct. 1- Nov. 30).  Alerts will be issued 1-2 days                before a significant rain event reminding you that it's time to remove street leaves. ***This program is                    only available to Dane County residents or businesses.***

 Click HERE for E-MAIL Alerts   Click HERE for TEXT Alerts  

       4. Help spread the Leaf-free Streets message in your neighborhood! It's easy, check out                                                   the Leaf-free Streets Toolkit for resources.

person raking leaves out of street

2016 City of Middleton Neighborhood Leaf Pilot

The City of Middleton and the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy partnered with the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership on a pilot aimed at engaging residents in street leaf removal efforts.  The pilot study took place between October 1st and November 30th, 2016 and included two test sites and one control site within the City of Middleton. Residents living within the test area were mailed information about the pilot requesting their participation in September 2016. Interested residents returned a commitment card pledging to remove leaves from the curb and street in front of their home before the rain.  Electronic (text or email) rain event alerts were issued to pilot participants 1-2 days prior to a rain event prompting participants to remove street leaves. Details and results of the pilot are available in the Summary Report.


Friends of Pheasant Branch volunteers

Municipal Leaf Collection Guidelines

Follow your municipality's guidelines for leaf collection if you rake. Contact them for more information. Information on MAMSWaP municipalities’ pick up requirements can be found through the links below:

Municipality Options (descriptions below)
City of Fitchburg B, C
City of Madison A, C
City of Middleton A, C
City of Monona C
City of Stoughton A, C
City of Sun Prairie B
City of Verona C, D
Village of Cottage Grove C
Village of Cross Plains C
Village of DeForest C
Village of Maple Bluff A
Village of McFarland B
Village of Shorewood Hills A
Village of Waunakee A
Village of Windsor B
Town of Blooming Grove B
Town of Burke C
Town of Madison A
Town of Middleton C
Town of Westport C

Option A-  Leaves raked to terrace, but not in the street.
Option B- Leaves placed in bags at curb.
Option C- Yard Waste Drop Off Sites. Contact your municipality for locations. 
Option D- Verona only: Because of machinery limitations, actually requires residents to rake leaves directly in the street.


Other Leaf Resources: