Local residents weigh-in on whether ridding certain lawn fertilizers would aid Grand Lake…
Michigan legislators last week banned lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, which in large amounts can cause algae blooms in waterways.
Could a similar ban in the local watershed help Grand Lake?
The answer is likely yes, but it would be minuscule because residential runoff represents such a small amount of the lake’s total phosphorous loading, local watershed coordinator Laura Walker said.
Walker said she feels the issue is better addressed through education and voluntary compliance than a statewide or local ban.
More local lawn care businesses and stores that sell fertilizer now carry phosphorous-free fertilizers since customers started requesting it, Walker said. This is good because data gathered during the last four years show many lawns in the watershed do not need phosphorous at all, she said.
The Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance four years ago started a residential lawn sampling program that shows homeowners how to collect lawn soil samples so they know what is needed on their lawns.
The watershed group, the non-profit Lake Improvement Association and a local agronomics company subsidize the cost so that homeowners only pay $5 instead of $20 for the testing. Homeowners receive a report so then they apply the proper nutrients.
Lawn fertilizer is formulated using percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. These three numbers typically are on the outside of the fertilizer bag.
Most lawns don’t need phosphorous because clippings left on the ground produce phosphorous, Walker said. The only time it is needed is if a homeowner is establishing a brand new lawn because phosphorous builds strong roots, she added. Nitrogen is the main nutrient that gives a lawn its green color.
Lake resident Bill Ringo supports a local ban on lawn fertilizers containing phosphorous because any reduction in phosphorous no matter how small would help.
About five years ago Ringo and other LIA members asked Mercer County Commissioners to enact such a ban. Both commissioners and county health department officials told him they didn’t have the jurisdiction. John Leutz, senior policy analyst with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, agreed, adding that a city government would be in a better position to enact such a ban because cities are not solely governed by Ohio Revised Code.