Do your part — take fertilizer ban to heart

DID YOU KNOW? — This illustration by Beacon staff photographer Marsha McLaughlin makes light of the difficulty in enforcing the Volusia County fertilizer ban. You may be surprised to learn that using fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorus is banned in the county from June 1 through Sept. 30. Fines for homeowners run from $50 for first-time offenders, up to $500 for subsequent violations 

Many people are completely unaware there is a summer ban at all on the use of fertilizers loaded with nitrogen and phosphorus. Stores still sell them — and enforcement is barely existent. 

Phosphorus is actually banned year-round, unless the soil has been tested and shows a phosphorus deficiency. 

Also banned year-round is applying fertilizer within 15 feet of “... any pond, stream, watercourse, lake, canal, or wetland,” according to the law.

About 22 percent of nitrogen in our groundwater is from urban turfgrass fertilizer — basically, fertilize applied to lawns — according to the June 2018 Volusia Blue Spring Basin Management Action Plan.

Nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to devastating algal blooms that can choke out aquatic life — as we’ve seen with this years’ high mortality rate of manatees in the Indian River Lagoon. The unprecedented rate of manatee deaths in the area is attributed to algal blooms reducing the amount of seagrass, which manatees feed on.

Do your part — take the fertilizer ban to heart!

— Eli Witek