110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Mar 5, 2014 - 10:55:05am
Should the use of fertilizer be banned during the summer? Or during the winter? Or not at all?
When the Volusia County Council meets Thursday, March 6, members will once again take up the matter of a fertilizer ordinance.
The subject has been brought up numerous times at County Council the past couple of years, and the elected officials finally asked county staff to put together suggestions, which were presented at the Feb. 20 meeting. Details about the ordinance will be taken up once again March 6.
Use of fertilizer has been tied to pollution of lakes and waterways, and to destructive algae blooms on the St. Johns River and in the Indian River Lagoon.
Here's part of what the County Council will be considering:
• Seasonal bans on the use of fertilizer. Some counties ban fertilizer application during the summer, June 1-Sept. 30, under the rationale that runoff into surface water is more likely during the summer rainy season. Other counties have banned use of fertilizer during winter months, under the theory that lawns and plants don't absorb fertilizer during non-growing periods.
Erica Santella, regional technical manager for TruGreen in Sorrento, lobbied against a seasonal blackout period. It seems that when it rains, the fertilizer will move, "but turfgrass is the best water filter," she said. She said fertilizer, when spread properly, doesn't move.
Council Member Josh Wagner said he thinks professionals should be the only people applying fertilizer during the summer.
Council Members Pat Northey and Doug Daniels said they are in favor of tough restrictions, to protect the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River.
"We need the strongest ordinance we can get," Daniels said.
Council Member Pat Patterson, whose constituents include farmers and fernery operators in Northwest Volusia, said he prefers to follow the Department of Environmental mode, which doesn't mandate a seasonal blackout.
Also being considered:
• A ban or limit on fertilizer containing phosphorus, and a ban on the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous when flood or storm watches and warnings are issued, or when soils are saturated with water.
• A ban on fertilizer application within 10 feet of a surface-water body or seawall, or within 3 feet if a deflector shield is used during application.
• No exceeding the recommended amount of fertilizer.
• Some exemption for farm operations and professional applicators.
With At-large Member Joyce Cusack absent and the six remaining members split on the issue, the County Council voted voted to continue the discussion until Thursday, March 9, when the County Council will meet at the County Administration Building at 123 W. Indiana Ave. in DeLand. The meeting starts at 9 a.m., and the fertilizer discussion is on the agenda for after lunch.
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