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Posted: Jun 05, 2017 4:34 PM PDT │ Updated: Jun 05, 2017 4:37 PM PDT
Homeowners Desperate for Green Lawns Risk Fertilizer Fines
Fertilizer sales continue to climb despite the warnings of runoff and steep fines. Patience is wearing thin for a lot of homeowners trying to get their lawns to where they once were. The rain is helping, but many say it's worth the fine to bring their lawns back to life.
Matthew Lombardo of Lombardo Landscaping hears it every June. "People say do whatever you have to do, be aggressive," Lombardo said. Customers are looking to capitalize on the wet conditions and with a sprinkle of fertilizer, regrow what was lost.
As of June, that's no longer an option. "A lot of people typically think, you put more down and it's going to be better. That's not the case." The more rain, the greater risk of having the fertilizer seep into our local waters creating toxic algae. "We're just now getting the first big rains of the season and that brings a massive load of runoff with it," said John Cassani of the Calusa Waterkeepers. It's referred to as the "90-10" rule. The first 90 percent of our water's pollution typically comes from the first 10 percent of the runoff.
As an education tool, the Lee County Department of Natural Resources has come up with a video of their own warning of the "Green Monster" caused by fertilizer runoff. In a statement by Lee County Natural Resources Manager Kurt Harclerode, he says the following: "There is an informational campaign to raise awareness about water quality and how using fertilizer can impact our water quality. Runoff - including fertilizer - can feed algae blooms. That's why Lee County has an ordinance. We all need to do our part."
If you're caught fertilizing between June and the end of September, you can be fined $100 for the first offense and $500 for the third. Sanibel, Naples, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and Charlotte County all have their own ordinances with their own specific rules.
October maybe too long to wait for something you can just as well get from the store shelves. Fertilizer at Vision Ace Hardware in Lee County is flying off the shelves. Store management told us that homeowners have asked for a quick fix to their once dry properties at any cost. "Citizens need to take responsibility for what they are contributing to the local waters," Cassani said.
Stores in other counties across Florida have pulled fertilizers during the rainy season, but not Lee County. Some now question if that's the next move. Lee County officials remind us you also have to be cautious of grass clippings and pet waste that have been known to create similar algae issues in our canals.