Street sweeping is a commonly used practice across Minnesota to provide a healthy, safe, and attractive environment for residents and visitors. While regular removal of litter and dirt from our streets and curbs is necessary to prevent storm drains from clogging and flooding, street sweeping can also be used to protect water quality by reducing leaf litter, trash, dirt, and other pollutants from entering our water resources.
Research by University of Minnesota Professor Sarah Hobbie in 2022 demonstrated that street sweeping is an effective method for reducing phosphorus in stormwater. Street sweeping equipment removes leaves and other organic debris from streets that can be a significant source of phosphorus before it gets into storm drains and then to our lakes and rivers.
The University of Minnesota Water Resources Center and Minnesota Sea Grant have partnered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to develop the Clean Sweep Program which provides resources and training to communities to initiate street sweeping programs that will help them meet their water quality goals by targeting their efforts where it counts the most. The Clean Sweep project team used a series of surveys, focus groups, and case studies to help develop the Clean Sweep Education and Training Program in 2022 and the program continues to grow.