Fort Myers Beach proposes fertilizer ban, prevent algal blooms

The battle continues between the green grass and the harmful algal blooms. There is a push to ban fertilizer year-round on Fort Myers Beach. Nutrient runoff chemicals found in fertilizer are a known prime contributor to algal blooms.

The Marine Resources Task Force in Fort Myers Beach is working on a proposal to extend the four-month lawn fertilizer ban year-round.

“It’s getting into the water,” said Shannon Mapes with the task force. “It feeds the red tide.”

Some locals fear that fertilizer creates the water quality issues on FMB.

“Horrified by the dead sea life all over the beaches and you know that’s just not acceptable,” Thomas Martin said. “I am absolutely in favor of it 100 percent. We need to protect our waters. That’s our greatest asset.”

The task force said runoff from fertilizers in the lawns here end up right in a canal and the back bay eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico. This is an added reason the task force will look to propose the outright ban of fertilizers in the area.

“It’s not every fertilizer,” Mapes siad. “It’s not for vegetable gardens. It’s not for palm trees. It’s specifically for lawn fertilizer that’s primarily really nitrogen and phosphorus.”

Mapes said it is an effort that traces back to the canals and back bay.

“All of our run off since we are an island goes into the back bay,” Mapes said. “And healthy water on the Gulf side is directly tied to the health of the bay. Estero Bay is already considered an impaired waterway.”

Others living nearby worry a ban would kill their property.

“I think it would be the end of our lawn,” Hugh Manning said. “The brutal weather with the salt in the heat and so forth on the beach requires some attention to grass that doesn’t grow without fertilization.”

The town environmentalist is working on that proposal. The task force hopes to eventually ban pesticides on the beach as well.

Manning hopes there could be a compromise to hold homeowners responsible versus the year-round ban on fertilizers for properties that are near the canals and back bay that lead out to the Gulf.

“There should be a happy compromise available versus doing nothing or going overboard,” Manning said. “Keep being mindful of what you’re doing in your ecology here.”

 

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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