Most of us probably don’t think much about algae until we go swimming or fishing in a lake or pond and there it is. Just because the weather is getting colder, summer’s algae colonies aren’t going anywhere. Instead they are building strength for next summer’s bloom. Their main diet is phosphorous.

Nutrients, like phosphorous and nitrogen, emerge from such unassuming fall pollutants like leaves, grass clippings and soil sediment, or from sources unseen like excess fertilizer on lawns.

Stormwater — formed from rainwater that runs off our properties, streets, and sidewalks — makes its way through storm drains that lead directly into nearby streams, rivers and lakes. On its way, stormwater can pick up these nutrients that eventually feed toxic algae blooms. Together with a little light, these nutrients can feed algae throughout the winter, even below a sheet of ice!

The Norwalk River Watershed Initiative reminds us to keep stormwater pollution prevention in mind as we go about our fall cleanup. For tips on how to prevent stormwater pollution, visit norwalkriverwatershedinitiative.org under What You Can Do/Fall Tips.