Fertilizers placed on your lawn to make the grass grow can have the same effect on algae species in our waterways – help them grow. Excess nutrients in the water can result in blooms of algae that use up the available oxygen in the water, killing fish and other aquatic organisms.
Some algae blooms can also be toxic, affecting human health, our seafood industry, and the health of our environment. Red tide is one such type of algae and it has been documented that the presence of excess nutrients and other nutrient-fed algae blooms can intensify and lengthen red tide blooms.
Algae blooms fed by human sources of nutrient pollution can create an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem, smothering and killing seagrasses; which are a nursery and food source for many fish and wildlife species, sometimes injuring or killing several hundred individuals during just one event.
Read more about our manatee advocacy work.
Creating an ordinance and education program to limit the amount of fertilizers that end up in our ground and surface waters is one of the most important steps a community can undertake in protecting its water quality and quality of life.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has worked with several communities to adopt a stringent and protective ordinance, and has also worked to help educate Southwest Florida about the importance of such measures.
Many municipalities in our five county area have adopted a good set of practices to minimize fertilizer pollution - some better than others. The Conservancy can provide a draft ordinance for any city or county to use in order to protect their water quality.
The Conservancy will continue its efforts to promote strong ordinances to keep our waters clean.
Limit your yard’s need for fertilizer or other chemical use by choosing the right plant for the right place and utilizing natives. Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program provides a good model for these efforts.
Look for a fertilizer product that contains no less than 50% slow release nitrogen (N), as well as 0% phosphorous (P). Many Southwest Florida soils have phosphorous already present, so additional phosphorous may not be needed. A slow release product will help to ensure that at the next rain event, the nutrients aren’t washed away quickly.
Don’t apply more than 4 lbs. of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 square feet per year.
Don’t apply fertilizer within 10 feet of a waterbody, pond, wetland, or canal. Use a deflector shield on your applicator. These will limit the chance that fertilizer ends up directly in the waterbody.
If fertilizer is spilled, don’t rinse away into the stormdrains, street, or driveway. Pick up the fertilizer, instead. Sources of natural nutrients such as grass clippings, should also not be disposed of into stormdrains or street.
Do not apply fertilizer before a rain, as this will allow the fertilizer to be picked up in the stormwater or leach more quickly into the groundwater resources. Since during the rainy season, frequent and consistent rains are expected, do not apply fertilizer during the summer (June 1 through September 30). And don’t apply before a flood, tropical storm, or hurricane event.
Ask your lawn care provider or your homeowner’s association to implement these Southwest Florida-friendly practices.
To promote better water management, the Conservancy works with stakeholders and decision-makers to ensure that stringent water management tools and best practices are in place and utilized.
The manatee population in Southwest Florida is very vulnerable. The Conservancy advocates against attempts to downlist the Florida manatee under the Endangered Species Act.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Policy and Advocacy Department continues to fight for stronger more comprehensive oil and gas legislation.
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