homepage logo

Guest opinion: Don’t limit locals from protecting their waters

By Staff | Mar 26, 2011

Over the last several years a number of local governments, in an effort to reduce nutrient pollution to rivers, streams, and creeks throughout the state have passed ordinances that regulate the use of fertilizers that contain nitrogen and phosphorous. It has been well-established that over or improper use of fertilizers containing these nutrients can contribute to harmful algae blooms in area waters. In fact, state and federal laws in some instances require local governments to have fertilizer restrictions. The Lee County fertilizer ordinance sets limits on both how much fertilizer can be applied at one time, as well as how much can be applied over the course of a year. It has also been well documented that source control – preventing pollutants from entering our water ways is much more efficient and less costly than cleaning up the pollution problem once it has occurred.

Currently there are bills moving through the Legislature that would not only stop local governments from passing their own ordinances, but would also abolish the local ordinances now in place. The proposed legislation would require local governments to adopt a less restrictive ordinance which was developed by a state task force. This “model ordinance” is a good first step for areas that have not yet addressed the issue, but would be a step backward for those that are already working to clean their local waters and who have passed local ordinances.

I oppose any provision that would limit local governments from establishing local regulations and I particularly object to any attempt to force local governments to repeal already established regulations that control fertilizer application and education of fertilizer applicators. If local governments are required to clean local waters and meet water quality standards, they most certainly should have the authority to design programs and write laws toward that end. Limiting their ability to do such is wrong and undermines Florida’s efforts to object to the USEPA’s approach to numeric nutrient regulation.

– Representative Trudi K. Williams, District 75, Fort Myers