At last! There is a beautiful and comprehensive plan to address Florida’s high use of fertilizers and pesticides that contain large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. The plan is to ban all fertilizers during the heavy rain seasons.
Starting on June 1, all of Pinellas County will be restricted from using some fertilizers! The countywide ordinance prohibits people from using or buying fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus through Sept. 30.
I cannot express to you all just how thoroughly pleased I am to hear about the endeavors of Florida’s Sierra Club chapter to persevere in this fight to prevent toxic algae blooms, also know as Red Tide.
Since I have worked so closely with Florida’s oceans and have grown up along side it, I have witnessed this toxic bloom and have seen the carnage. I tend to cringe at the sight of all the deceased fish along the beaches. Not only would I cringe but I would become overwhelmed with sadness and frustration knowing that the state is aware of what causes it and how to prevent it.
Thankfully, the Sierra Club of Florida has successfully campaigned against the Florida House of Representatives’ attempts to contradict the Florida Red Tide Campaign. They have secured more then 40 cities and counties with strong ordinances banning the use and sale of these fertilizer products.
Last year, although you were not able to use fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus, individuals could still purchase it and behind closed doors could presumably use it without anyone knowing any better. This year, since no one will be selling fertilizers, we hope to see less home owners sprinkling their yards with chemicals containing high nitrates which will bring less toxic storm water runoff to our precious bay, rivers, streams and Gulf of Mexico. (HOORAY!)
To the best of my understanding, there are a variety of ways that red tide can bloom. It is, by definition, a toxic algae bloom that is primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico. It can multiply and therefore create blooms that highly impacts marine animals, such as dolphins and manatees, and is responsible for taking the lives of thousands of fish and other aquatic species. The blooms are so awfully dangerous to marine life because they essentially attack the nervous system. It is also harmful to humans as well. Humans are impacted once they are exposed and can sometimes suffer from respiratory issues or at least an itchy, scratchy feeling while grasping to take a deep breath.
So, all in all, let us be thankful to the Sierra Club and all who have campaigned for the local governments to be able to build stronger ordinances against our state’s weak laws on nitrogen and phosphate use. We can also thank Representative Clay Ingram for sponsoring the bill and proposing the amendment to the bill which will continue to allow counties, such as Pinellas and Manatee, to protect our waters rather than following the state’s “Best Management Practices,” which haven’t been too successful for Florida’s oceans.
The greatest way to get involved and celebrate this change is to continue protecting our precious water resources. You can do so by contacting your local state legislatures.You will find their contact information by following this link: http://redtideflorida.org/pages/actions/fertilizer-limiting-laws-jeopardy.php.
Be a part of the change, give them a call and let them know that you support the bill that will allow for counties to adopt stronger seasonal ordinances against fertilizer use.
In the famous words of Jacques Cousteau, a dedicated ocean activist, “I said that the oceans were sick but they're not going to die. There is no death possible in the oceans — there will always be life — but they're getting sicker every year.”
Let your voices be heard, protect what you love and be well, my friends!
To learn more about what you can use to fertilize your home this season check out the county's website.