New fertilizer rules in effect for Orange County

New fertilizer rules are now in effect for Orange County residents and businesses.

Passed earlier this year by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, the new rules prohibit the application of fertilizer containing nitrogen during restricted summer months beginning June 1 and ending September 30.

Additionally, the rules now ban phosphorus year-round and eliminate previously included exceptions for trained commercial and residential applicators.

The updates to the County’s Fertilizer Management Ordinance aim to improve water quality and prevent algae blooms in local lakes, rivers and springs, according to county officials.

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

The new rules also put a cap of three pounds on the amount of nitrogen applied per 1,000 square feet per year, as well as increase setback distances from natural water bodies from 15 feet to 25 feet.

“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,” said Julie Bortles, Environmental Programs Administrator for Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division.

According to county records, studies that were concluded in 2021 showed high levels of nitrates from fertilizer in groundwater and detected some increases in those levels during the summer rainy season.

To learn more, visit Orange County’s fertilizer management and water quality protection efforts webpage.

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