Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gardening at Sea Level...

Living just 6 blocks from the Gulf presents a number of challenges. Fortunately these challenges are offset by all of the GREAT things about Galveston and our coastal environment. That being said - we do have some unique problems related to gardening and garden maintenance. One of the more serious is disposing of lawn and garden wastes.

Like any community, we have leaves and other plant debris that ends up in streets, gutters and storm sewers. Unlike "above sea level" communities, these wastes can create SERIOUS problems. Why? Since our storm water infrastructure is somewhat lacking, many lines simply don't have the capacity to handle a real downpour. Now - add a bunch of leaves, grass clippings and other yard wastes and you've got a real potential for flooding.

This is particularly true in our neighborhood. Luckily our little house is in an X zone (no flood insurance required) but just 1 block over it's a different story. The heavy rain last week created quite a little flood and it took some time for the water to recede. That's because the drains were clogged with leaves and other crap people carelessly swept, blew or otherwise pushed into the street. I give the City of Galveston credit. They're always sucking out the storm water sewers but people need to help out by properly disposing of lawn and garden wastes and trash too. 

These same yard wastes also pose an environmental threat. Leaves and especially grass clippings contain a fair amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, etc. As these organic materials decompose, they release these nutrients, which can then enter bays, creeks, and other estuaries via the storm water system. High nutrient levels in these water resources can result in a variety of negative environmental impacts including algae blooms and fish kills.

It always raises my hackles (whatever that means) whenever I see mow-blow-go guys routinely blowing leaves and grass clippings in to the street. I guess there's not much that can be done about that - but hopefully we can help address these issues by properly disposing of our lawn and garden wastes.

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