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Lakes, rivers get key protection with phosphorus restrictions for lawn fertilizer

State Senate, House pass measure
Dec 2, 2010
Legislation restricting phosphorus in lawn fertilizer will help keep Michigan lakes and streams clean and healthy, the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) said today after the bill’s passage through the state legislature.

Michigan joins other Great Lakes states including Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin and Illinois in restricting phosphorus fertilizer in some applications.

“These rules help protect our lakes and rivers from being strangled by mats of weeds and nuisance algae blooms – both of which are fueled by the excessive phosphorus that runs off from lawn fertilizers,” said Chris Kolb, Michigan Environmental Council president.

“We know this approach works,” stated Elizabeth Riggs with the Huron River Watershed Council. “Our river monitoring data from the Ann Arbor area shows total phosphorus concentrations have dropped by 30 percent, which correlates with local policies to restrict the use of phosphorus fertilizers and educate the public about the issue.”

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants, but the majority of Michigan lawns have more than enough in the soil. Excess phosphorus runs off into storm drains and creeks where they end up fueling excessive plant growth in lakes and ponds.

That growth can create oxygen-starved “dead zones” where fish and other aquatic creatures can not survive.

Exceptions to the Michigan phosphorus restrictions are included in the bill for agriculture, newly established lawns, lawns that have tested low for phosphorus, golf courses and other special circumstances. It also encourages buffer strips of vegetation to protect lakes and streams from phosphorus runoff and other pollutants.

The bill passed by the Michigan House is House Bill 5368: http://bit.ly/d4YMZE .


James Clift, MEC: 517-256-0553
Elizabeth Riggs, HRWC: 734-769-5123 x608
RELATED TOPICS: water protection
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