Many incognizant of the Lee County fertilizer regulations

Fertilizer package. (WINK News photo)
Fertilizer package. (WINK News photo)

Many residents are not aware of the fertilizer regulations in Lee County that were put in place over a decade ago to protect the environment.

Debbie Yamin has lived in Florida since 2005 and since her first day, she has used fertilizer to get what she calls, the perfect green lawn.

“Either it’s pure weeds or no grass,” Yamin said. “Plus, were in association and they send you a letter saying fix your grass.”

What Yamin did not know is that Lee County has a fertilizer ordinance in place for 10 years, which bans the chemicals from June to October. She is not alone. Commissioner Brian Hamman told WINK News it is critical that Lee County does a better job of educating the public about the ordinance.

“We are trying to keep fertilizer from going into the waterways, especially during the rainy season,” Hamman said.

Fertilizer runoff can contribute to blue-green algae. (WINK News photo)
Fertilizer runoff can contribute to blue-green algae. (WINK News photo)

Florida Gulf Coast University Scientist Serge Thomas said all the rain in the summer causes a lot of runoff that pushes the nutrients into the waterways. It creates a troubling result, Serge said.

“The water here is very reactive to phosphorus, meaning it will grow algae really easily,” Serge said. “We’re actually a phosphorus limited environment and a little bit of phosphorus will create a lot of damage to the environment.”

Despite the seriousness of the ordinance, enforcement is difficult. Currently, Lee County only responds to complaints made. Those caught fertilizing in the summer will be issued a warning while repeat offenders may be given a fine.

As for Yamin, she is happy to hear the county is fighting the water crisis, even if that means giving up some of that green this summer.

“No one can go to the beach,” Yamin said. “It was like 85°, 90°, 95° and no one could go to the beach. It’s sad.”

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