Yesterday June 20, 2017, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved some good amendments to the urban fertilizer ordinance in the works for several weeks. The long, long meeting ended late, with many from the fertilizer and lawn care industry pounding home time after time that, properly applied by professionals, fertilizer would not harm our groundwater. This was echoed by a scientist from UF. But science proves otherwise, said many environmentalists who spoke with facts and reason.
Seemingly lost from sight, is the fact that our groundwater and springs are in decline, and this is in large part due to an overdose of nitrates from agriculture, septics, and yes, urban fertilizer. Jane Durocher, Middle Basin advocacy director for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, did point this out. And Orange County has the opportunity to help this situation, and it took a small step, but needs a forward stride.
Thanks to Eric Rollings, who has passed on this update from the meeting.
Hello – update on fertilizer ordinance – sending to all who I think are interested J More than 35 people provided public comment during hearing. Ordinance was passed with five amendments, including:
No fertilizer containing nitrogen shall be applied unless at least 50 percent of its nitrogen content is slow release. Now this requirement changes to at least 65 percent slow release when the product is readily available in the commercial market by July 2020.
EPD will bring back to the Board after 24 months to provide summary of data collected and evaluate ordinance
Signage about fertilizer restrictions will be in retail establishments selling fertilizer. Signs will be provided by Orange County. (This is similar to what Martin County has done)
Enforcements – EPD will enforce (Code Enforcement will be made aware of enforcement measures as well)
o For homeowners:
- Warning first
- Then $50 fine
- Then $100 fine
o For businesses:
- Warning first
- Then $500 fine
- Then $750 fine
Certified applicant must show proof of training on all vehicles used during applications.
Unfortunately, what was most hoped for was a complete ban on summer applications with no exceptions. This did not happen, but perhaps it will later.
Hats off and thanks to Commissioner Emily Bonilla, District 5, who did her homework and showed that summer applications are not necessary for lawn workers to work, nor for healthy lawns.
Although Sierra Club had a strong presence, environmentalists from many groups were present, including your OSFR historian.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-