Tampa City Council passes update to summertime fertilizer restrictions

04/20/12 Samuel Johnson
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Tampa has an ordinance that restricts the sale and use of fertilizer during the summer months to cut down on water pollution. Thursday the council unanimously made minor changes to that ordinance.

The city council chamber was full of citizens and members of interest groups wearing pink stickers. The stickers reminded the council that they agree with the fertilizer ordinance and that it shouldn’t be watered down. The ordinance is intended to inhibit the runoff of fertilizer into the waters of Tampa like the Hillsborough River. Chris Costello of the Sierra Club said that City Council has made the right decision.

”The Sierra Club fully supports these last revisions and we applaud you on your work on this issue. We know the water quality in Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough River will benefit from your actions.”

Some large national fertilizer companies lobbied to weaken the ordinance because they claim it would cause small businesses to suffer. City Council member Lisa Montelione said that view is incorrect.

”So I wish to elevate the concerns of some small businesses that cater to niche clientele to say that in speaking with them; the summer months that we are looking at banning these products won't effect them”

The ordinance restricts fertilizer use during the rainy summer months for home owners and most businesses. Some businesses, like golf courses and farms are except. Jan McLean of the city attorney’s office said the changes passed yesterday would also exempt theme parks.

”What this does is place you back in the position of the ordinance that you adopted in June with the addition of the theme parks exemption.”

Council member Charlie Miranda said he supports a strong fertilizer ordinance because water is the key to Tampa’s future.

"Those that have water will have economic value. Those that don't have water will have nothing. When that bay started to be cleaned up through the process of all in this room and many who are not here; made us a more viable community.”

The second reading of the changes will be May 3.

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