Thursday, January 26, 2012

Help Save Florida's Waters from Nutrient Pollution! Stop SB 604!

SB 604 by Sen. Dean
Fertilizer Preemption Bill
In Environmental Preservation and Conservation
Monday, January 30
Senate Bill S 604 - Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer Application by Sen.Dean, Charles S. "Charlie", Sr. will be heard in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee next Monday at 3:30 in room 110 of the Senate Office Building here in the Capitol.
If there is any way you can make it to the Capitol to attend the meeting, PLEASE COME! Bring examples from your community demonstrating the cost of nutrient impaired waters to public health, the local economy, and quality of life.
We need to make sure every member of the committee knows how much this bill will cost local communities in terms of worsened water quality and in terms of higher taxes and fees. Yesterday, the House fertilizer bill, HB 421 passed in committee by a vote of 9-6 because we lost two of our declared NO votes (Reps. Hooper and Van Zant) and now the Senate bill will be heard in its second of three committees. A bill has to pass both the House and Senate in order to become law, so we have a good opportunity to stop it here.
SB 604 has not yet been amended to match HB 421, but we anticipate that it will. The expected amendment will exempt lawn care workers who have taken a 6 hour course from local fertilizer application bans during the rainy season. This is the most important part of local lawn fertilizer ordinances. Source control is both the most effective and least expensive way to protect water quality.
Fertilizer feeds more than grass. It also feeds algae that clogs Florida’s waters, hurts our water related industries (recreational and commercial fishing, tourism, and waterfront real estate), and presents a threat to public health. The Olga Water Treatment Plant that provides drinking water to 30,000 southwest Floridians had to be closed because of an algae bloom (anabaena) that produced nerve toxins.
The contact information for members of Senate Environmental Conservation and Protection follows. Please contact each one, but if one of them represents your County, be sure to contact them at the very least. I have grouped the emails for the committee if you want to send the same email to all of them for your convenience. But a visit this weekend to their district office would be better. A phone call to the Capitol during business hours Thursday, Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday is also good. Best of all would be all of those personal contacts and your presence in the Committee room Monday afternoon.
The talking points below the contact info are limited to the bill as we expect it to be amended. If we wait for the amendment to be filed, we’d lose today and tomorrow to make contact. The rainy season ban is the heart and soul of our communities’ strong fertilizer ordinances and that’s what we need to protect. Thank you for helping save Florida’s waters from nutrient pollution!
Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation 2012

Sen. Charles S. Dean, Chair (and sponsor of SB 604)
Delegations: Baker, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon,
Levy, Madison,Marion, Suwannee, Taylor
District Phone: (352) 860-5175
Local Phone: (850) 487-5017
Sen. Nancy Detert
Delegations: Charlotte, Manatee, Sarasota
District Phone: (941) 480-3547
Local Phone: (850) 487-5081
Sen. Dennis Jones
Delegations: Pinellas
District Phone: (727) 549-6411
Local Phone: (850) 487-5065
Sen. Jack Latvala
Delegations: Hillsborough, Pinellas
District Phone: (727) 556-6500
Local Phone: (850) 487-5075
Sen. Steve Oelrich, V. Chair
Delegations: Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Union
District Phone: (352) 375-3555
Local Phone: (850) 487-5020
Sen. Nan Rich
Delegations: Broward, Miami-Dade
District Phone: (954) 747-7933
Local Phone: (850) 487-5103
Sen. Eleanor Sobel
Delegations: Broward
District Phone: (954) 924-3693
Local Phone: (850) 487-5097
Talking points
The rainy season ban is not a partisan issue. In fact, it is Republican commissioners and council members along our coasts who have cast the winning votes for strong fertilizer management. Why? Because the ban protects local jobs and saves their communities millions of dollars.

Local coastal community economies are defined by and are dependent on the quality of their water resources. Local governments must maintain the right to protect those water resources upon which the majority of the community’s jobs are based.
Every red tide or drift algae outbreak; every slime covered river, lake, and spring kills jobs. Tourists run from algae spoiled waterways and many never return. Small waterfront businesses are the hardest hit.

Strong fertilizer ordinances are the cheapest and easiest way to protect our waterways from nutrient pollution. Source control is exponentially less expensive than removing nutrients from water bodies.
Nutrient removal requires hundreds of thousands, millions of tax dollars to be spent on stormwater and waste water infrastructure projects.
If local governments lose the rainy season ban they will absolutely have to turn to costly nutrient removal methods.
Cities and counties are responsible for the quality of the water bodies in their jurisdictions under the Clean Water Act – they are accountable.
As a result of this accountability, and the overall competition for funding and other resources for the various services local governments provide, there is a strong incentive to use the least expensive methods that gets the job done. That is why urban fertilizer management ordinances have become so popular in communities that are struggling to restore their impaired waters.
Cheap clean water or expensive clean water? Local governments need to retain the right to make that choice.
A strong fertilizer ordinance stops nutrient pollution at its source, saving local tax dollars and protecting the tourism, fishing and hunting industries in the region.

Where these rainy season application bans have been in place, landscape contractors report a reduction in fertilizer use of hundreds of tons annually, while still delivering lush landscapes. The landscapers also report a reduced need for insecticides, fungicides and water – which saves their company and their customers money. And water quality is improved, too!

Strong local ordinances have opened a door for Florida-based companies that have been ready to develop and provide ordinance-compliant products.
Scotts Miracle-Gro (as in Scotts Turfbuilder and Scotts Lawn Service), an Ohio company, on the other hand has been slow to provide summer-safe, No-Nitrogen/No-Phosphorous Florida-friendly products.
Before strong fertilizer ordinances, Scotts OWNED the shelf space at Home Depot.
But now many Florida companies, where the profits and jobs stay in Florida, are competing with Scotts. Florida companies like:
Sunniland Corporation in Sanford, Howard Fertilizer & Chemical Company in Orlando,
Custom Biologicals, Inc. in Deerfield Beach, Vigiron in Ruskin,
Florikan and Biological Tree Services in Sarasota, Growers Fertilizer Corporation in Lake Alfred,
Southern Ag in Palmetto, Green World Path in Brooksville, Smart World Organics in Hudson,
Mothers Organics in Seffner, and Peggy Green Inc. in St. Petersburg
No surprise that Scotts is the biggest opponent of local ordinances in the state. Scotts hates losing shelf space to its Florida competitors.

The fertilizer manufacturers and applicators that support preemption, claim that the “limited certification” training commercial applicators receive is sufficient to protect water bodies in all parts of the state; that one-size-fits-all.
However, the fertilizer portion of this training is only one-fifth of a 6-hour course, or about 72 minutes. And a passing grade is only 75%.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether you have 72 minutes of training or a Ph D in fertilizer; NO ONE, no matter how well “trained” they are, can keep fertilizer on a lawn that is subject to the kind of intense summer rains we experience here.
When it rains it pours during the Florida summer; if you live here it is obvious that the worst and most wasteful time to apply fertilizer is during the summer.