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Water-Related News

Summertime fertilizer ban persists despite pressure from turf groups

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates the costs to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from waterways at $3,300 per pound per year and $11,000 per pound per year, respectively.

BRADENTON – A literal turf war over a 2011 fertilizer ordinance fizzled out after Manatee County commissioners narrowly decided not to change the rule.

The way the ordinance is now, and how it will remain, bans nitrogen fertilizer from June 1 through Sept. 30, prohibits phosphorus year-round unless the soil has been tested and deemed deficient and requires that all granular fertilizers need to have more than 50 percent slow-release nitrogen.

In a work session Tuesday, leaders heard from either side of the struggle: Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department outlined that the ordinance was put in place to limit nitrogen runoff into stormwater, while turf and fertilizer proponents wanted to ease the restrictions to allow licensed lawn care professionals to practice during the summer.

The county adopted the ordinance based on a Tampa Bay Estuary Program model from 2008. Excess nutrients like nitrogen or phosphorus can contribute to the growth of certain kinds of algae, which in turn leads to damaged seagrass beds and depleted oxygen levels that contribute to fish kills.