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Tribune Editorial: It is important to "mow in" for our water's sake

Erica Dischino / Tribune Dean Sagedahl "mows in" on his lawn Tuesday afternoon at his home in Willmar. City ordinance 1227 makes it a misdemeanor to deposit grass clippings, leaves or other vegetative materials onto impervious surfaces or within the stormwater drainage system.

Willmar Public Works needs help from its residents to keep debris out of the city's stormwater sewer system. The city's stormwater can be a is a significant source of water pollution within our water basin.

"Leaves and grass clippings are a significant source of pollution," Public Works Director Sean Christensen said in a Tribune story earlier this week.

Christensen is asking for all residents to help keep grass clippings and leaves debris in their yards and out of the street gutters.

The Tribune story Wednesday included a photo of Dean Sagedahl mowing a neighbor's lawn the correct way along the 1400 block of Willmar Avenue Southwest. He was mowing the yard with his mower's discharge blowing onto the lawn, not into the street. Sagedahl was helping repair a neighbor's lawn mower and was testing out the mower. He was doing a good deed for the neighbor as well as the city.

Thank you, Mr. Sagedahl, for helping keep Willmar's stormwater clean and improving lake and stream quality within our city and Kandiyohi County.

However, not everyone in the city remembers to "mow in," as Christensen encourages.

It is actually a misdemeanor under the Willmar Ordinance 1227 to deposit grass clippings, leaves or other vegetative material onto impervious surfaces or within the stormwater drainage system of the city.

So far the city has not issued any citations based on this ordinance. However, in 2017, the city issue 73 flyers reminding residents to do their part in keeping their grass clippings and leaves on their property and not depositing it in the streets and curb areas. This year, the city has already issued 57 flyers.

The refuse of grass clippings, leaves and other waste can be significant enough to impede the flow within the city's stormwater system. In 2017, Public Works removed 4,000 cubic yards of material that could have obstructed the catch basins and pipes of the stormwater system.

This mowing into the street is happening both in residential and business areas of town.

So it is in everyone's best interest to "mow in" when you are keeping your yard mowed and neat. This helps keep our city's stormwater system clear to drain water as efficiently as possible, especially during heavy rainstorms.

If a resident sees grass blown into a street by residences or businesses, they can call Willmar Public Works and a compliance officer will check out the report as soon as possible.

While the city is continuing to address stormwater projects, such as the Western interceptor and the Cambridge housing development, it is essential for all residents to remember to "mow in" and keep their grass clippings out of their street.

Thank you again to Sagedahl and other city residents who are doing it right, by keeping their grass clippings out of their city street or recycling them.