Various changes to the countywide Alachua County Water Quality Code designed to protect our water quality and groundwater supplies went into effect on October 1, 2019, with the landscape fertilizer ban effective July through February every year.
Landscape fertilizer regulations prohibit the use of fertilizers with nitrogen from July through February and require that landscape fertilizers containing nitrogen contain no less than 50 percent slow-release nitrogen. New regulations also prohibit phosphorus unless a deficiency is verified. The three numbers on a fertilizer bag are nitrogen, then phosphorus, and finally, potassium. This means the middle number on the bag must be zero unless you have conducted a soil or tissue test to verify the need for phosphorus. Signage about the fertilizer rules must be displayed at all stores that sell fertilizer. Alachua County Environmental Protection staff have distributed signage and will confirm that the signs are on display.
The ordinance also includes the following standards:
- Fertilizers containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus may not be applied when soils are saturated with water, before heavy rain, or for the first 30 days after seeding or sodding.
- Fertilizers spilled on impervious surfaces must be removed immediately, and may not be blown or washed into stormwater systems or water bodies.
- Fertilizers shall not be applied within a minimum of ten feet from any waterbody unless a deflector shield is used (then a minimum distance of three feet is required).
- Grass clippings must be removed from streets, sidewalks, and driveways immediately.
- Fertilizer must be stored in areas protected from rainfall and stormwater runoff.
- All commercial and institutional applicators shall successfully complete the Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Water Resources by the Green Industries training and carry evidence that they are a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (FDACS) Commercial Fertilizer Applicator.
“Fertilizers are a source of pollution to our surface waters, groundwater, and springs, so we want to ensure that citizens are aware of the fertilizer ban,” said Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Water Resources Program Manager Stacie Greco. She continued, “In a recent survey of more than 1,000 residents, 55% said they don’t use fertilizer at all. If you want to commit to joining the 55%, go to www.AlachuaCountyWater.org to sign the pledge, and we will send you a bumper sticker to show your support of our water quality!”