Carl McKinney of the Lake City Reporter has an article today, April 16, 2017 about fertilizer restrictions. The law is so mild it may have little effect, but it is a step in the right direction. Certainly lawn fertilizers are a significant cause of nitrate pollution in our springs and rivers, and curtailment of their use is very important. We hope the law will be accompanied by enforcement harsh enough to provide compliance.
Note that agriculture is exempt. By far the largest contributor to nitrates in our water, this is a sacred cow in no danger of being slaughtered. Indeed, agriculture is a good and necessary thing and second to tourism in our state’s economy. Yet on the balance scales, it is far over-weighted, as it produces a small portion of our economy compared to a large portion of water use.
We must begin to adopt stronger restrictions on fertilizer use in all types of agriculture. There are many ways this can be done, and yes, our water districts are exploring and employing some of these. In spite of this, they continue to issue excessive water withdrawal permits, and they fall far short of what is necessary if we want to restore our rivers and springs.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
‘Lawn cops’ will be on the watch
Fertilizer use to be restricted by county under new state law.
By CARL MCKINNEY firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia County must comply with a state mandate to create new restrictions on fertilizer use. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is giving the county until July 1 to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the use of fertilizer during certain times or in certain places, under the 2016 Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act.
Fertilizer runoff into water bodies can create algae blooms and negatively impact aquatic plants and animals. Scott has prepared a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the use of fertilizer during periods such as flood, tropical storm and hurricane watches or warnings. It would also establish fertilizer-free zones within 10 feet of water bodies. Scott emphasized that the county has no choice in the matter.
The state mandate applies to all municipal governments whose boundaries include specially protected water bodies, such as Ichetucknee Springs. “We have to adopt this,” Scott said. Bona fide farm operations are exempt from the rules, according to the DEP model ordinance.
Scott said he’s preparing to contact agriculture industry lobbyists to inform them of the exemption. “I don’t want misinformation to get out there,” Scott said. “I’d hate for a farmer to think that this is going to do anything to stop him from fertilizing crops,” Scott added. Land used for scientific research is also exempt.
As for enforcement, “local governments should consider making penalties consistent with their other fines and penalties,” according to a note added to the model ordinance. The ordinance states that these fines should be used to fund enforcement of the ordinance “and to further water conservation and … pollution activities.”