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Our Town by William Kelly: Palm Beach’s seasonal fertilizer ban starts tomorrow

The Town of Palm Beach’s seasonal fertilizer ban, intended to protect local waterways from harmful algae blooms, takes effect on Saturday, June 1.

The town is reminding residents and businesses that town law prohibits the application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus between June 1 and September 30.

Town Council President Bobbie Lindsay urged town businesses and residents to require their property and landscape managers to cease the use of fertilizers during this period.

“Reducing harmful fertilizer runoff is essential to clean and healthy waterways in our community,” Lindsay told the Palm Beach Civic Association on Friday. “Together, we can do this.”

The Town of Palm Beach does not apply fertilizers to its parks during the rainy season months, Lindsay said.

The town’s ban supports state efforts to control harmful algae blooms and promote clean water during Florida’s rainy season. The use of excess fertilizer results in contaminants polluting the waterways in stormwater runoff when it rains.

Algae blooms are natural phenomena, but their frequency, duration and intensity can multiply in waterways where there is an overabundance of phosphorus and nitrogen. This is especially true when the water is warm, and the weather is calm.

Harmful algae blooms release toxins that contaminate drinking water, causing illnesses for animals and humans.

Lisa Interlandi, policy director at the Everglades Law Center, said it’s crucial to limit the use of fertilizers and other lawn treatments throughout the year, but especially important during the summer months when heavy rainfall can lead to runoff of harmful chemicals into the Lake Worth Lagoon.
“Homeowners can play a vital role in protecting the lagoon’s wildlife, such as manatees and sea turtles, by opting to forgo lawn chemicals, especially during the summer months,” Interlandi said.

Dozens of Florida organizations, businesses and communities expressed disappointment last year when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $116.5 billion state budget that included $250,000 for a study of seasonal fertilizer bans.

The law prohibited counties and municipalities from adopting new fertilizer bans, or amending existing ones, while the study of the bans’ effectiveness is conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

But counties and municipalities with existing fertilizer bans can continue to follow rules that they already have in place. Palm Beach is among more than 100 local governments in the state that have adopted a seasonal ban on fertilizer use.

Leaders of 55 organizations urged DeSantis to veto the $250,000 appropriation, pointing out that studies already have shown seasonal fertilizer bans are the easiest and least expensive way to stop urban stormwater pollution at its source.

Anyone with questions or concerns about the ban may contact Palm Beach Code Enforcement by calling 561-227-7080.


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