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Summer Fertilizer Ban Seeks To Protect Florida Waterways

90 Florida communities have bans on fertilizers containing phosphorous and nitrogen that may cause algae blooms. .
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It’s 95 degrees. Sunscreen and sweat drips from your forehead. You do a cannonball into a lake to cool off and are greeted by a thick coat of blue-green algae.

This is the scenario Florida’s environmental specialists are trying to prevent by enacting fertilizer restrictions.

Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk counties are among the 90 Florida communities joining in the restrictions. Many of these communities have ordinances that ban fertilizers containing phosphorous and nitrogen from June 1 through September 30.

While phosphorous and nitrogen are nutrients that feed your lawn, they also cause algae to grow.

In the summer, Florida is notorious for its heavy afternoon rainstorms. This water causes nutrients in the ground to loosen and get carried to local waterways. Once there, the high concentration of nutrients causes algae to bloom.

Anamarie Rivera, Pinellas County Senior Environmental Specialist, emphasized the importance of reading labels when buying fertilizer. She said it’s imperative to follow the directions on the product when it comes to using any chemical. If you’re outsourcing your landscaping to a company, Rivera said to do some research on them first.

“Make sure you do your due diligence as a consumer,” Rivera said. “You’re paying for a service, make sure those individuals are properly registered with Pinellas County Environmental management.”

There is a fine of up to $10,000 a day for those who break the Pinellas County ordinance.

“Only rain down the drain” is the slogan for Pinellas County’s PSA video on keeping the Florida watershed clean. It cautions you to be mindful of what goes down your storm water drain."We can do that simply by blowing grass clippings back into the lawn where they can be used for a beneficial aspect versus going down the storm drain and feeding the beast that is the algae blooms," said Rivera.

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Carrie Pinkard is the Stephen Noble news intern for the summer 2019 semester. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in English, before heading to USF St Pete to pursue a master’s in journalism.