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Florida Today: Melbourne ordinance regulates fertilizer use

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MELBOURNE — Tuesday night, the Melbourne City Council approved a lawn ordinance that bans fertilizer application during flood and storm watches and warnings.

Fertilizer application will also be regulated within 10 feet of waterways under the new ordinance, which was modeled by the Florida Department of Protection.

DEP officials have ordered Melbourne to reduce Indian River Lagoon pollution by more than 44,000 pounds of nitrogen and 13,000 pounds of phosphorus during the next 15 years, agenda records show.

About 80 percent of the city’s landmass drains toward the Indian River Lagoon, City Engineer Jenni Lamb said, much of it via creeks and canals.

Via Tuesday’s ordinance, Lamb has estimated DEP officials will credit the city for removing about 225 pounds of nitrogen and 66 pounds of phosphorus.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Melbourne city code did not address fertilizer.

The vote was 4-2, with Molly Tasker and Mike Nowlin voting no. Betty Moore was out of town.

The Brevard County Commission adopted a identical fertilizer ordinance in December. Last week, the Rockledge City Council went a step further by banning the use of fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus from June 1 to Sept. 30.

Dr. Laurie Trenholm, University of Florida professor of environmental horticulture, told council members her eight-year scientific project shows grass is “actively growing” and absorbing nitrogen during the rainy season. She said a winter fertilizer ban would probably be more effective, though more research is needed.

Thirty-two people signed up to speak during Tuesday’s public hearing.

Dr. Leesa Souto, Marine Resources Council executive director, recommended creating a Brevard “nutrient consortium” to study the topic.

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