Nuisance algae blooms harm people and wildlife

We did it!

We are celebrating yesterday’s passage of Michigan phosphorus fertilizer legislation that will go a long way toward protecting the Huron River and its lakes and streams from nuisance algae blooms that can result from excess phosphorus entering our freshwaters. The Huron River Watershed Council began advocating for this legislation eight years ago with Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner Janis Bobrin and the City of Ann Arbor. THANK YOU to the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Terry Brown, and Rep. Rebekah Warren, Chair of the House Great Lakes and Environment Committee, and the state legislators who voted in favor of the legislation 2:1.

The bill will amend Part 85 (Fertilizers) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to do the following (partial list):

— Prohibit the use of fertilizer containing available phosphate, beginning January 1, 2012, except to correct a phosphorus deficiency or establish new turf grass, or by trained staff at a golf course, and require the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to approve a training program.

— Establish regulations for the application of any fertilizer near water (a 10 ft buffer will be in effect where no fertilizer can be applied) , as well as the cleaning of a fertilizer spreader.

— Require a person who released fertilizer on an impervious surface to take certain actions, and prohibit the application of fertilizer on frozen or saturated soil.

— Provide that the preemption of local fertilizer ordinances under Part 85 would not apply to an ordinance in effect on the bill’s effective date that regulated or prohibited the application to turf of fertilizer containing available phosphate.