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County Bans Phosphorus

Under Battle Creek, Michigan's new ordinance which goes into effect at the end of April, homeowners, turf-grass managers and landscape contractors would be restricted from using manufactured fertilizers containing phosphorus unless a soil test indicates it is needed. The ban is exempted for new lawns and lawns with proven phosphorus needs.

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The goal of the ordinance is to educate county residents that phosphorus leaching into rivers and lakes causes excessive algae growth, County Health Officer Jim Rutherford said. Too much algae can clog waterways and suffocate fish populations.

The ordinance does not ban the sale of manufactured phosphorus--only its use on lawns where it is not needed or where it can easily wash into waterways and sewers.

"Basically, the ordinance is simply trying to keep phosphorus out of the watershed as much as possible," Rutherford said.

Violations will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. No staff or money has been budgeted to investigate complaints; however, the board does not expect there to be many. Non-phosphorus fertilizers are readily available in stores.

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May 19, 2019, 8:29 am PDT

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