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Assembly OKs bill to cut Bay pollution
Bill would help reduce bay pollution

 Fertilizer legislation aims to help the Chesapeake Bay.
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Date published: 2/25/2011

By Chelyen Davis

RICHMOND

--The ingredients of your home lawn fertilizer will be changing soon to help reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, under bills passed by the General Assembly.

The bill, from Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, and Del. Ed Scott, R-Madison, requires fertilizer manufacturers to remove phosphorus from most lawn maintenance fertilizers by 2013, although it would still be available in fertilizer for new lawns, trees or home gardens. The bill would not apply to agricultural fertilizer.

The bill also will require phosphorus and nitrogen to be removed from de-icers, and requires golf courses to develop nutrient management plans.

Phosphorus and nitrogen are direct contributors to dead zones in the bay, Stuart said, and he thinks the bill will have a huge impact on bay cleanup efforts.

"It is the most comprehensive fertilizer reform bill we've ever seen in the state of Virginia," Stuart said. "The bill is huge. And we do it in a very business-friendly, cost-effective manner, just by taking out a product that didn't need to be there in the first place."

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, many homeowners apply phosphorus and nitrogen products when they're not needed.

The foundation said the bill could reduce phosphorus runoff in the bay by 230,000 pounds per year, which would be 22 percent of the state's phosphorus reduction goal by 2017.

It will also help Virginia meet federal requirements for bay cleanup. Stuart said the bill will have contractor applicators file reports about how much fertilizer they put down, which will allow the state to incorporate that information into its calculations for credit under the water quality improvement plan.

Stuart said that bay regulations could eventually require cities like Fredericksburg to make serious, expensive improvements to stormwater management systems. He hopes his bill will help lessen the need for cities to make expensive changes.

Eight other states restrict phosphorus in fertilizer, according to the bay foundation.

Both houses of the General Assembly have passed the bill, and it now goes to the governor.

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com