Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

Be Informed.

North Port commissioners urge residents to curb year-round fertilizer use

handsacross In: North Port commissioners urge residents to curb year-round fertilizer use | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

The trend is here:  urban fertilizer is being targeted [correctly we might add] as promoting algae growth and probably also worsening the red tide.

Hooray for Northport, Venice, Sarasota County and all the other municipalities with intelligence and leadership.

Urban fertilizer, septics, and especially agriculture are the main contributors, and we must get the trend to treating the causes and not just the symptoms.

Until we can face reality and reach a common and fair way for all to share the costs, we are doomed to more devastating red tide and poisoned waterways.

Start thinking about it, because if we don’t begin soon, this cycle will finish by itself in a way we won’t like.

Read the original article here in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-

By Earle Kimel
Staff Writer

Posted Oct 10, 2018 at 7:29 PM Updated Oct 10, 2018 at 7:29 PM

SARASOTA COUNTY — North Port city commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to encourage residents to curb use of fertilizer year-round — joining Venice, which adopted a similar voluntary ban earlier this year.

The city joins Venice, which passed a similar resolution, and plans an educational program for residents

City Commissioner Jill Luke worked on the resolution, along with city stormwater management staff.

And similar to a resolution that was passed in Venice, the city of North Port is only urging residents to take steps to curb fertilizer use, in hopes of reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in stormwater runoff, and, in turn, avoiding feeding the red tide algae in the Gulf of Mexico.

North Port stormwater manager Elizabeth Wong said the city is planning educational outreach for a variety of users.

“We’re first going to target the golf courses, the homeowners’ associations, who we think are most likely to fertilize,” Wong said. “We’ll target them first.”

North Port’s current ordinance, passed in 2007, is modeled after Sarasota County’s, which prohibits fertilizer use from June 1 to Sept. 30.

During public comment, Justin Willis asked whether the city could extend that to Nov. 30 — the end of hurricane season.

Luke noted that the city is looking at opening its current ordinance to see what it can change, without running afoul of state law.

Meanwhile, at its Tuesday meeting, the Venice City Council continued to hear comment from Hands Along the Water, the grassroots group that has pushed for clean water and for practices to curb excessive nutrient flow.

Ultimately, the group wants state lawmakers to follow the same steps that other states did to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Venice is planning to host a public information session Oct. 17 on Florida-Friendly yards, and the city Environmental Advisory Board plans a similar session at its Oct. 24 meeting.

During public comment, Jerry Jasper and Tom Jones of the Venetian Golf & River Club counseled against an outright ban, then noted that the the Venetian is testing the nutrient levels in its stormwater retention ponds and working with the city to curb nutrient flow.

Venice Utilities Director Javier Vagas noted that city reclaimed water is technically marketed as low-grade fertilizer and for the last month the department has been running a pilot to find out what it would cost to further treat the water to reduce nutrient levels by lowering nitrogen and phosphorus by adding aluminum sulfate.

A ballpark estimate for that would be another $60,000 to $100,000 per year, on top of the wastewater plant’s current $1.5 million operating budget.

Venice City Council Member Rich Cautero noted that the city has been inundated with information that needs to be combined so the city can focus its efforts.

“We’re going to grasp at a couple of issues, but we’re not going to be able to coordinate it,” Cautero said.

“At some point, we have to have some structure,” he added. “I think it would serve us well.”

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