EPC considers nitrogen fertilizer ban

12/18/08 Seán Kinane
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To cut down on nitrogen pollution entering the region’s water, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program has suggested that local governments forbid their residents from using nitrogen fertilizers on lawns during the summer rainy season. In their meeting this morning, the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) heard about why such an ordinance is needed.

To make it easier for local governments to enact these nitrogen fertilizer restrictions, last month the Tampa Bay Estuary Program approved a draft ordinance that can be used as a template.

Holly Greening is Executive Director of the estuary program. Nitrogen is a problem, Greening told the EPC, and homeowners nationwide use six times more of it per acre than farms. She said that if only half of homeowners complied with the proposed ordinance that would mean a 30-ton reduction of nitrogen in surface waters.

During public comment, Sierra Club representative Michael Holsinger encouraged the EPC Board, which is also the Hillsborough County Commission, to adopt the summertime ban on nitrogen fertilizer. Holsinger, who is the former Sarasota County extension director, has even used the Estuary Program’s draft ordinance to craft one that would be appropriate for Hillsborough.

The EPC will consider the nitrogen fertilizer ban during the January meeting and will ask three professors of horticulture to weigh in on the issue.

Learn more at epchc.org.

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