Autumn leaves are pretty, but not if they are in the gutter. When leaves from the autumn fall collect in gutters, they can block the stormwater system and affect the flow of water.

Did you know that your gutters and stormwater drains are connected to Canberra’s streams, pond, creeks and lakes, including Lake Burey Griffin?

When excessive leaves, grass clippings and soil enter the stormwater system, they deliver excess nutrients to the water bodies downstream. This excess nutrient load of phosphorus and nitrogen provides blue green algae with an abundance of food helping it to thrive. Keeping the autumn leaves out of the gutter will help reduce the occurrence of blue green algae blooms.

Blue green algae is a natural part of freshwater systems, providing food for zooplankton. But when the conditions are right it can grow rapidly, creating a bloom. Blue green algae in large numbers poses a threat to people who might swallow the affected water or get it in their eyes, nose, throat and on their skin.

As well as the leaves in autumn, rubbish finds it’s way into the stormwater system through the gutters. Remember Canberra’s Drains are just for the Rain. #LoveLBG

Wouldn't it be better to keep leaves, grass clippings, soil and rubbish out of the drains so that we can have healthier waterways and Lakes?

When nutrient-rich water flows into Lake Burley Griffin it provides food on which blue-green algae thrive. These nutrients can build up as a result of:

  • Sediments and soil flowing into the stormwater drains;
  • Fertilizers and organic matter (grass clippings and leaf litter) from gardens flowing in to drains;
  • The dumping of food scraps into waterways; and
  • Leakages from blocked or damaged sewers and drains.

Small but effective measures taken by the community will help combat the contributing factors which promote blue-green algae in Lake Burley Griffin. These include:

  • Clean gutters and make sure that garden waste and lawn clippings are raked up and won’t be washed into stormwater drains after rain;
  • Check that soil does not run into stormwater drains when it rains;
  • Check that sewers and drains are in good repair and not blocked. Report any suspected sewer leaks to ICON Water;
  • When washing cars, do not allow soapy water to flow into the stormwater drain. Wash the car on the grass and reduce the amount of water used or use a commercial car-wash that recycles water;
  • During landscaping, direct any  run-off into the garden and lawn area;
  • If the swimming pool needs to be emptied, the water should not be directed to stormwater. Empty the pool gradually to allow the water to soak into grass or garden beds (ensuring water does not go onto neighboring properties);
  • Dog faeces washed from footpaths and driveways to the stormwater system pose a health threat to swimmers and contributes to the nutrient loadings. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets, especially while out walking their dogs. Collect all faeces and then bury them in the garden or dispose of them in a sealed bag in the general waste; and
  • Rainwater tanks contribute to the protection of the environment. By reducing water run-off and by slowing the flow of stormwater from the urban environment, fewer pollutants are transported into creeks, lakes and rivers. Consider installing a rainwater tank to provide water for the garden, washing cars, topping up swimming pools, or with additional plumbing, to connect to the toilet or washing machine.

These small measures will help reduce the level of nutrients in catchment areas and assist to improve the water quality of the Lake Burley Griffin.