Go green: Don’t fertilize this summer
It is time for Southwest Floridians who have been demanding action to improve water quality in our canals, river and gulf to step up and take part.
Fertilizer restrictions throughout much of Lee County begin June 1, prohibiting, through the rainy season, the use of chemical additives to green up lawns and landscaping.
The “blackout” ordinances in Lee County, Cape Coral and Fort Myers Beach are not new nor is the one on Sanibel, where the prohibition goes into effect on July 1.
All ban the use of fertilizers through September to keep additional nitrogen and, especially, phosphorous, out of area waterbodies where the chemicals can “feed” algae, naturally occurring or not, and so foster noxious algal blooms.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida states the purpose behind the annual ban well:
… “Fertilizers placed on your lawn to make the grass grow can have the same effect on algae species in our waterways help them grow. Excess nutrients in the water can result in blooms of algae that use up the available oxygen in the water, killing fish and other aquatic organisms.
“Some algae blooms can also be toxic, affecting human health, our seafood industry, and the health of our environment. Red tide is one such type of algae and it has been documented that the presence of excess nutrients and other nutrient-fed algae blooms can intensify and lengthen red tide blooms.
“Algae blooms fed by human sources of nutrient pollution can create an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem, smothering and killing seagrasses; which are a nursery and food source for many fish and wildlife species, sometimes injuring or killing several hundred individuals during just one event.
“Creating an ordinance and education program to limit the amount of fertilizers that end up in our ground and surface waters is one of the most important steps a community can undertake in protecting its water quality and quality of life….”
As much as we love the green grass of summer, as much as we enjoy the lush, tropical landscaping that makes Southwest Florida the paradise we all call home, we urge property owners to do their part:
No fertilizers during the rainy season.
The summer showers that provide much-needed hydration also cause fertilizer runoff that flows into swales, canals and stormwater systems flowing, ultimately, into the Caloosahatchee and then the gulf.
These extra nutrients add to the excess contributed by other sources, including animal waste, urban runoff and sheet flow, improperly maintained or leaking septic systems and – the granddaddy of the bunch – discharges from Lake Okeechobee. These pollutants make the perfect soup on which algae can gorge.
A greener summertime lawn or green gunk in our waterways?
It’s an easy choice.
Go green, keep your lawn and garden fertilizer free this summer.
– Citizen editorial