The primary reason for keeping yard waste off the roadway surface is storm water protection. When rainwater flows through yard waste sitting in the road, the water is contaminated with high levels of phosphorus. Contaminated water then drains into storm sewers which empty into local creeks, streams, rivers, and the Bay of Green Bay. Phosphorous promotes algae growth and depletes oxygen content for aquatic life. Water running through yard waste sitting on grass has a much higher chance of soaking into the ground and not getting into natural waterways. Wisconsin DNR and federal EPA rules require the City of Green Bay to maintain programs to improve natural water quality. The no-leaves-in-the-street ordinance is one of those programs. Failure on the part of the City to enforce stormwater protection rules results in penalties imposed by the state in the form of fines and state/federal aid reductions. Reduced revenue from other sources means that the City must raise property tax assessments to balance the budget.
City of Green Bay Municipal Code (Chapter 32) requires solid waste to be placed only on property one owns, controls, or leases until collected. Yard and garden waste is defined in Municipal Code as solid waste. Yard waste must be placed on the terrace which (although is roadway right-of-way) is property under control of the adjacent property owner. DPW asks residents to do their part to maintain Green Bay’s compliance with stormwater protection laws.