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Summer’s here, so fertilizer’s gone

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Summer rains are here, and with them, residential and urban runoff.

Each summer these runoffs carry surface-level pollutants into Florida’s waterways. And arguably none are more environmentally detrimental than the nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizer.

Pinellas County and surrounding areas, to counteract the problem, have enacted a summer fertilizer ban.

Be Floridian, a service of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, is spearheading an accompanying awareness campaign. From June 1 to Sept. 30 the organization is championing various alternative lawn-care and gardening techniques, like adding iron, zinc and manganese for a healthy, green yard; or using cow or chicken manure, or home compost, to enrich plant soil.

They also recommend planting plants that are suited to Florida’s hot, languid summers, thus not requiring as much, if any, fertilizer.

The full list of recommendations can be seen online here.

Be Floridian characterizes itself as “a society for preserving Florida for boating, fishing, and drinks with little umbrellas.” In other words, they’re trying to keep our water clean. And right now, overall, it isn’t. According to a Pinellas County watershed study, 86 percent of the water in and around the Pinellas County peninsula is impaired by either nutrient imbalances, depleted oxygen, or bacteria.

Fertilizer directly contributes to this problem by getting caught up in the summer rain runoff, filtering out into local waterways, and then feeding its nitrogen and phosphorus to harmful algae blooms — like red tide — that use up oxygen, kill fish and glowingly discolor water.

Garden centers around the Tampa Bay area will have “summer safe” products for distribution over the summer months, most of which are locally produced.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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