New fertilizer rules in Orange County now in effect

Rules run through Sept. 30

Orange County approves stricter fertilizer rules to curb water pollution

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – New rules for fertilizer use in Orange County are now in effect.

Orange County commissioners approved unanimously in January to enact a stricter fertilizer ordinance to help curb water pollution. The ordinance calls for a “summer blackout,” in which the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous will be banned yearly from June 1 to Sept. 30, with few exceptions, a news release said.

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“This ordinance is one of many steps in the right direction to keep pollutants out of our waterbodies,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in a release.

The size of fertilizer-free zones next to bodies of water will be increased from 15 feet to 25 feet, and only 3 pounds of fertilizer containing nitrogen may be applied annually to every 1,000 square feet of land, the county said. Additionally, any nitrogen-containing fertilizer applied to yards and landscapes must contain at least 65% slow-release nitrogen, the county said.

Recommendations to update the ordinance were brought back to the bargaining table due to recent testing that identified urban fertilizers as the primary source for nitrates in northwest Orange County’s ground water.

“Restricting the application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer is an important measure that will help protect our rivers, lakes, springs and groundwater from nutrient pollution and associated algae blooms,” Julie Bortles, environmental programs administrator for Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division, said in a release.

Click here to read the full ordinance.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.