LCC Advocating to Limit Phosphorus Lawn Fertilizer

Legislation to keep phosphorus from lawn fertilizer out of our waterways has been passed in NY and is under consideration in VT. Photo by Metro Watershed Partners.

The Vermont legislature is considering bills (H. 26 and S. 35) that would limit the amount of lawn fertilizers used in the state. Frequently, homeowners apply fertilizer in excess of what is needed by lawns. Excess fertilizer has detrimental affects on water quality. Phosphorus from fertilizer can reach water when some of it is spilled on sidewalks and driveways or when fertilized soil erodes. Once in the water it promotes algae blooms.

The Lake Champlain Committee has long advocated for such legislation. In 2006 our efforts led to the legislature approving an education campaign about lawn fertilizer. This became the “Don’t P on Your Lawn” campaign initiated by LCC, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Vermont Agricultural and Natural Resource Agencies, and New York and Vermont Extension Services. However, education alone is not enough. During the summer and fall, LCC met with the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and legislators to collaborate on a bill.

Lawn fertilizer limitations have been enacted in many states. Minnesota was the first in 2001. Since then Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York have followed suit. All Vermont LCC members are urged to contact your state legislators and ask them to support this important effort to protect Lake Champlain and other waterways.