McFarland Community Service Day may be months away, but residents can get a head start at giving back to the community this fall.

The McFarland Volunteer Committee is hosting a Love McFarland Lakes, Don’t Leaf Them event on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Organizers aim to bring awareness to the increased phosphorous levels in stormwater by encouraging others to keep leaves out of stormwater drains and streets. The village is teaming up with Dane County Lake and Water Resources and Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership for the event.

More than 50 percent of the annual amount of phosphorous comes from leaves in the street, according to Dane County Lake and Water Resources.

“That was a pretty shocking number to me. because phosphorous in excess is what causes those toxic algae blooms,” McFarland outreach/case manager Katie Gletty-Syoen said.

Simply removing leaves keeps them from getting caught in storm drains and polluting the water.

She explained that before roads and parking lots, leaves would get caught in grass or branches and be composted. Today’s streets do not trap leaves.

“That’s just a vector for all sorts of this leaf litter to gather and funnel into our drains,” she said.

The village advises residents to avoid blowing, raking or placing loose leaves in the street. Instead, leaves should be composted or bagged for proper disposal. Any leaves in streets should be removed before it rains.

“Since we have so many waterways in the McFarland area, this is kind of an investment of ours in our community to take care of our waterways,” organizer Katie Gletty-Syoen said.

Volunteers will first meet at the McFarland Municipal Center at 12:30 p.m. for a presentation by Dane County Land and Water Resources stormwater education coordinator Christal Campbell.

Teams of four or five people will set out to adhere decals to stormwater drains and distribute door hangers in areas with high levels of pedestrian and bike traffic.

Each team will install five to 10 decals on drains throughout the village that read, “No dumping. Drains to lake.”

The volunteers will also hand out materials to residents about ways to reduce leaves in local lakes and leave door hangers.

At 2:30 p.m., volunteers will return to the municipal center for doughnuts and hot cider. They can also take home a yard sign about the cause.

Youths are encouraged to take part in the event, and each volunteer group should have at least one person who is over the age of 18.

If there is rain, volunteers will still meet at the municipal center for Campbell’s presentation and receive refreshments. Teams will be given materials to distribute at a later time decided by that team.

Residents are encouraged to sign up with Ripple Effect through Dane County Land and Water Resources to receive text or email alerts one or two days before it rains to clean the leaves out of drains and streets.

Those interested in volunteering should contact Gletty-Syoen by calling 838-7117 or emailing katie.gletty-syoen@mcfarland.wi.us before the event.

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