Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

Be Informed.

Small Step In The Right Direction – Much Bigger Step Needed


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.


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.


CONSERVE WATER – Turn off the tap as much as possible in every activity such as bathing, cleaning, irrigating, and washing. Click here for more ideas.

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.”

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  1. The Columbia County BOCC does have a choice to make the fertilizer ordinance more stringent, such as Seminole County that is home to the Wekiva River. Include this into the fertilizer Ordinance: 50% slow release nitrogen requirement then increase to 65% SRN after 3 years, black out in summer months (June 1 thru Sept 30), 15 foot set backs from waterways, and reduced fertilizer where reclaimed water is used.

  2. Just another slap in our faces Who will enforce / inspect the polluters. The same county enforcement that watched and allowed male and female public urination/defecation in public view on Wilson Springs road in Fort White EASTER SUNDAY OH that was so nice for the children to see. The same who allowed the blockage of a road so emergency vehicles had to travel from the station by the post office to the river and drive the long way around to the back side of the drug party. the same organization that allowed traffic violations only to the party goers all the way up from Alachua county speeding driving recklessly. is this the same enforcement guys? Or is rickey boy going to get a special bunch of good ol boys to be a gestapo group paid to look the other way? I have seen enough these days the country has become drug infested give me give me. I for one do not have my head buried. So sad to see the disregard. The law abiding citizens taking the brunt of the cost for these dumb commissioners allowing this to happen.

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