Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sierra Club Florida Water Quality Alert

SB 606– Fertilizer Please call members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture (contact info below) before Monday afternoon (March 7) to urge them to vote against this terrible bill.  Committee contact information is below. 
Bill Text    Web Page | PDF

Telephone calls are best, but if you can’t call, please send an email.
SB 606 (Fertilizer) will be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday afternoon.

Fertilizer Preemption:
SB 606 is a preemption bill that completely guts water protection ordinances adopted by over 40 local governments. 
SB 606:
  • Sets up a weak “model ordinance” as the most a local government can do even though it was written as a minimum standard.  Since the weak model ordinance would apply statewide and no stronger ordinances could be adopted, water quality will inevitably suffer and clean up costs will be shifted to taxpayers.
  • Preempts local ordinances retrospectively by giving the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) all authority over the sale, use, and application of urban turf fertilizer. All 40 plus local water quality ordinances adopted by officials closest to the people will be abolished.  (DEP, the agency responsible for water quality is cut out of the loop completely.)
Talking points
  • Localities have already adopted more stringent ordinances than the “model ordinance” and water quality has improved in those areas!
  • Lawns are not agriculture.  This is not about food production.  But lawns do contribute to stormwater pollution.
  • The cost of removing nitrogen from water bodies through storm and waste water treatment projects ranges from $40,000-$200,000 per ton (according to the treatment method used.) Source control is the best (and cheapest) water protection strategy.
  • Nutrient pollution that damages water quality with algal blooms affects these Florida businesses
·         Florida tourism is a $65.2 billion annual industry that generated 1,007,000 jobs in 2008  
·         Fresh and saltwater fishing generated $6.1 billion and 52,945 jobs
·         The commercial fishing industry generated $5.6 billion and  108,695 jobs
  • Lawn care companies can still do business under the more stringent ordinances.  They are free to apply iron, magnesium, potassium, compost based fertilizers, etc. during the summer rainy season.  They can also do pest control, mowing, trimming, etc.  These ordinances put no one out of work.
  • Many Florida fertilizer companies already offer “summer safe” products and Florida companies have gone from 2% of the market to between 70 and 90% of the market in areas with summer application bans. 
  • The ordinances do NOT affect the sale of plant material, potting soil, or feeds.
Senate Agriculture Committee phones, emails:
Please call before noon, Monday, March 7, 2011
Leave a message to urge a ‘No’ vote on SB 606
 Chair:   Senator Gary Siplin (D)  


David Cullen
Sierra Club Florida lobbyist