Hillsborough EPC considers summer fertilizer ban

12/09/09 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

The Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission heard from more than thirty speakers this afternoon on a proposed county-wide ban on nitrogen fertilizers.

Twenty-three residents spoke for the ban, while ten spoke against it. Supporters of the ban say that runoff from nitrogen fertilizers is causing deadly algal blooms that hurt numerous Tampa Bay area industries. Opponents, like Stephanie Shateela, a pest control company employee says that education is key, and that a total ban on fertilizer would be too drastic.

Other bay area communities are in the process of adopting such a ban, which the Tampa Bay Estuary Program recommends. Sarasota already has one in place. It would take place during the summer months, when heavy rains wash these fertilizers off people’s lawns and into nearby waterways. It would not apply to agricultural operations or golf courses. Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena was among the ban’s supporters.

Other speakers included a fisherman, environmental group representatives and concerned citizens. Speaking in opposition to the ban were people from lawn care or fertilizer industries. A University of Florida study that does not support the ban was industry-funded. While the commission did not make any decisions on the ban today, most appeared supportive of such a move.

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