Every year the Ameren Shoreline office receives calls from lake area residents who watch their neighbors and landscaping companies blow leaves into the lake. This year, Ameren has partnered with the Lake of the Ozarks chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist program to develop new educational materials and resources for proper leaf disposal.
Leaves Affect Water Quality
Thick leaf cover on the surface of the water prevents sunlight from reaching important microbes that process and release nutrients. The nutrients are used by aquatic plants, while microbes are food for shad and paddlefish.oo many leaves can overload the system. Decomposition of large amounts of leaf litter reduces oxygen in the water. This will cause the release of sulfur dioxide, producing a rotten egg smell.
If there are too many leaves in the water it can overload the system. Decomposition of large amounts of leaf litter reduces oxygen in the water. This will cause the release of sulfur dioxide, producing a rotten egg smell.
Clean, clear water at the Lake of the Ozarks is vital to our local economy. Millions of tourists visit the lake annually. We can all do our part to keep extra leaves out of the lake and protect our property values, businesses and visitors.
Here are some of the top reasons to keep your leaves out of the lake…
- Decaying leaves release nutrients in the water. These nutrients can increase algae blooms that are harmful to fish, pets, and humans.
- When leaves decay, the process uses oxygen that fish need.
- Leaves on the water’s surface make it harder fish.
- Leaves migrate downstream and eventually get trapped in the fishnet Bagnell Dam. It is costly to repair the net.
- Decomposition of thousands of leaves uses oxygen. Once the oxygen is used, anaerobic processes start, causing a rotten egg smell. Fewer leaves in the lake means less smell.
- Leaves collect at the bottom of coves, trapping sediment and make these areas even shallower.
- Clean water is vital to our local economy.
When working with landscape contractors, ask about their leaf disposal policy. It is illegal for commercial businesses to dispose of leaves into the lake. Find a contractor who disposes responsibly and legally. When leaves fall on your property, compost or burn them. Make sure the ash residue will not wash into the lake. Missouri’s waterways will be healthier far into the future when you do. See Lake Ozark Master Naturalist for more resources.