New York Passes Important Phosphorus Legislation

LCC advocacy led to a collaborative bi-state educational campaign to test soils before fertilizing.

New York State has passed a bill regulating the use of phosphorus by homeowners. As of January 1, 2012, homeowners and landscape contractors will not be able to apply fertilizer containing phosphorus to their lawns in the absence of a soil test that demonstrates a need for phosphorus or if a new lawn is being established. LCC recommends always getting a soil test before applying fertilizer since most soils in the Champlain Valley do not need the additional nutrients. Excess phosphorus runs off into our waterways. Retailers will still be able to sell phosphorus containing fertilizer, because of the exception, but they must provide signs about the dangers of phosphorus to fresh water systems. Additionally, fertilizer can not be applied within 20 feet of any water body; ten feet if a vegetative buffer has been established.

The fertilizer law is similar to legislation passed in Minnesota. Vermont does not have a fertilizer law though the Lake Champlain Committee has advocated for one and will continue to do so.

The same New York bill bans phosphorus in automatic dishwasher detergents for both residential and commercial use.  Vermont banned phosphorus in household automatic dishwasher detergent after a three year campaign by LCC to pass that legislation.  However, to out knowledge, the New York bill is the first in the nation to ban phosphorus in detergents for commercial dishwashers which typically work at a higher temperature than household washers.