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Fertilizer Bill Passes , An Article from " For the Sake of the Lakes "Newspaper
Friday, June 8, 2007
Fertilizer Bill Passes!
Our thanks to Representative Jane Eberle of South Portland, who sponsored COLA’s bill to protect and improve lake water quality by reducing Phosphorus in lawn care fertilizer.
And our thanks go as well to the 35 stalwart lake activists who trekked to Augusta and packed the Natural Resources Committee Hearing Room to show their support at the Public Hearing last February. Many experts and lake activists testified for the bill, and many independent lawn care representatives spoke against it.
Applicators’ early concerns were addressed by amendments that made clear the bill didn’t intended to prevent the use of Phosphorus for starting new lawns. When it came to a vote, the Committee was unanimous in passing the bill, virtually guaranteeing the House and Senate would follow suite. This occurred just last week, and now the bill just waits the Governor’s signature before becoming law.
So, what’s in the new law?
After January 1, 2008, all retail establishments selling lawn care products must post a sign near lawn care supplies informing customers that it’s illegal to apply lawn care products containing fertilizer unless a soil test has shown a Phosphorus deficiency, or unless the fertilizer is being applied to a new lawn.
What will it accomplish?
Phosphorus-free fertilizer will become readily available in all stores after January 1, 2008. This means that the DIY homeowner is much more likely to buy and apply a lake-friendly product to her lawn. And this will hold true for all home gardeners everywhere in Maine.
But, there’s no enforcement, so how will it work?
We prefer education and change in moderate steps to heavy-handed laws that stir a backlash. The graphic signage piece will be present in every retail store catering to home gardeners. We think it will communicate what excess Phosphorus can do to rivers, streams and lakes.
How will it affect my lawn?
It won’t, unless you just happen to be working with the 5% of Maine soils that lack Phosphorus. That’s right! 95% of Maine soils already have enough Phosphorus to grow healthy turf. Homeowners can “free up” Phosphorus tied to acidic soil by liming, a simple, inexpensive process that won’t harm lakes.
Is that all?
No, the bill also contained provisions for the DEP to investigate the role of buffers in protecting and improving lake water quality. Don Witherill of the Maine DEP will assess the effectiveness Maine’s current regulations and report to the legislature next year. He’ll conduct a roundtable discussion on buffers and other topics at our ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON JUNE 23. If you’ve got an opinion about buffers and lake protection, be sure to attend and tell him about it.
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