When we hear the term “street sweeping” we tend to think of removing litter from the streets and parking structures. However, there is much more to it than just that. In addition to the obvious benefits of a cleaner surface with no debris, street sweeping has some major environmental and health benefits.
The debris collected by street sweepers includes many materials that can be hazardous to the environment or our health, such as petroleum products, rubbish, sediment, and green waste. Sweeping the streets on a regular basis reduces the likelihood of these pollutants entering our stormwater systems. Keeping the drains and gutters clear will also reduce the chance for flooding during heavy rain.
Removing Green Waste Through Street Sweeping Can Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms
Green waste is composed of biodegradable litter, like grass clippings, hedge trimmings, and leaves. It’s high in nitrogen and phosphorus and can be detrimental to the environment if too much is allowed to enter the stormwater system. Excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus cause algae to grow rapidly — faster than our ecosystems are able to handle. This is known as an algal bloom.
Algal blooms have a big impact on the water quality, as well as food chain habitats for fish and other aquatic organisms. The oxygen levels in the water can decrease as a result of decaying algae. Since some algal blooms produce toxins, they may also have a large impact on humans — if we come in contact with the contaminated water, either by swimming, drinking, or consuming tainted fish, the toxins can make us sick and can even be fatal.
It’s important to know how street sweeping can affect so many different aspects of our lives. While you might not have even known what an algal bloom was or how it related to street sweeping, you now know how important it is to keep our drains and gutters clear of waste and debris! Reilly Sweeping’s professionals are trained with the proper equipment to keep waste off the streets and out of the drains. Contact us to see how we can improve the environment around your facility.