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Water-Related News

A controversial report says there is not enough evidence proving fertilizer bans help water quality

A Dunedin city commissioner and an activist at 1000 Friends of Florida share their take on fertilizer bans.

Florida lawmakers raised eyebrows last year when they ordered researchers to determine whether local ordinances that ban the use of fertilizers for part of the year are effective.

At the same time, legislators prohibited cities and counties from issuing new ordinances for 12 months.

But that didn’t impact ordinances already in place, like Pinellas County’s ban of nitrogen and phosphorous on landscapes between June and September.

Jeff Gow is a commissioner for the city of Dunedin, which he said has supported Pinellas' fertilizer ordinance since its inception in 2010.

He said lawmakers should speak with local officials and residents before making changes.

"Instead of them just making laws in Tallahassee, if they have concerns or ideas, reach out to us, ask us… We're the ones that are out there in the trenches every day talking to our residents," he said.

"So, that was the major emphasis on us reconfirming our dedication to supporting of the ban-- just kind of to make a statement that we think we're going in the right direction," he said.

Environmental advocates say the fertilizer bans protect local waterways from nutrients that feed algae blooms, but a report from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says there is inconclusive evidence to support that.

Now, advocates worry legislators may try to further prohibit cities and counties from creating fertilizer ordinances.

WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke to Haley Busch with the advocacy organization 1000 Friends of Florida about it.