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Summer fertilizer ban seeks to protect Florida waterways

By Carrie Pinkard for WUSF News

It’s 95 degrees. Sunscreen and sweat drips from your forehead. You do a cannonball into a lake to cool off and are greeted by a thick coat of blue-green algae.

This is the scenario Florida’s environmental specialists are trying to prevent by enacting fertilizer restrictions.

Green is mean.

Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk counties are among the 90 Florida communities joining in the restrictions. Many of these communities have ordinances that ban fertilizers containing phosphorous and nitrogen from June 1 through September 30.

While phosphorous and nitrogen are nutrients that feed your lawn, they also cause algae to grow.

In the summer, Florida is notorious for its heavy afternoon rainstorms. This water causes nutrients in the ground to loosen and get carried to local waterways. Once there, the high concentration of nutrients causes algae to bloom.

“While phosphorous and nitrogen are nutrients that feed your lawn, they also cause algae to grow.”

Anamarie Rivera, Pinellas County Senior Environmental Specialist, emphasized the importance of reading labels when buying fertilizer. She said it’s imperative to follow the directions on the product when it comes to using any chemical. If you’re outsourcing your landscaping to a company, Rivera said to do some research on them first.

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