Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today, on the shores of Lake Monona, signed a path breaking ordinance restricting unnecessary sale and application of phosphorus containing lawn fertilizer throughout Dane County. Phosphorus is a major contributor to nuisance algae blooms in Dane County lakes.
Falk signed the ordinance, passed by the County Board, in honor of the late Brian Howell, former editor of Madison Magazine, who had championed the lakes and advocated on behalf of the phosphorus limitation. Howell had been present at the same Law Park site this past July when Falk first announced that she would seek the county-wide limitation.
“We want both blue lakes and green lawns,” said Falk. “This is one step we can all take. I am enormously grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this day a reality.”
Falk presented a proclamation to Patricia Howell and her children, commending the “passion, intellect and journalism” that Howell used in advocating on behalf of Dane County’s lakes.
“I commend the Lakes and Watershed Commission for crafting a workable ordinance that gained widespread support,” said Falk, also praising Supervisor Andy Olsen for introducing the proposal.
Fertilizers normally contain a mix of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Rainwater runoff from lawns treated with fertilizers flows to storm drainage systems and into the lakes where the phosphorus causes excessive algae growth, and decreases water clarity.
The ordinance goes into effect January 1, 2005. This summer signs will be displayed wherever lawn fertilizers are sold, informing the public about the ordinance. The ordinance provides exemptions for new lawns, and lawns where a soil test shows that phosphorus is needed.