Collier County Commissioners met in a rare joint meeting that included elected representatives from both Naples and Marco Island. All three elected boards came together to discuss the issues regarding fertilizer and how best to move forward in a collaborative effort, if possible, on this issue.
Last year’s explosion of blue-green algae and the overabundance of red tide has spurned renewed efforts to address the situation within all of Southwest Florida.
Danette Kinaszczuk, the Director of Pollution Control for Collier County, praised the City of Marco Island’s work and effort dealing with the issue. She explained that the county was not looking to dictate to anyone; the goal was to assist one another in providing a stronger platform from which to better educate the county’s citizens and professionals who apply these chemicals to lawns and flora.
Kinaszczuk explained the effort in the Florida Legislature to standardize efforts to regulate the issue. The legislation, Florida HB 157, if passed would requires county and municipal governments to adopt and enforce the Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes; specifies that county and municipal governments must require use of specified slow-release fertilizers; provides additional requirements for counties and municipalities within estuary runoff areas; authorizes county and municipal governments to adopt additional standards if certain criteria are met.
Most all in attendance agreed that a “state preemption” of a local jurisdiction’s right to deal with the issue was not something they wished to see, as the situations vary so greatly within the state due to the diversity of the soils present throughout Florida.
Science has also shown that leaching of pollutants due to faulty septic systems also continues to present issues throughout Florida. Years ago, Marco Island embarked upon an expensive removal of septic tanks and the City of Naples has begun a final push to remove the remaining areas within the city that rely on septic tanks to handle residential waste.
Former Collier County Commissioner Tim Nance praised the discussions. Nance holds a B.S. degree in horticulture from the University of Florida and worked in the agribusiness for 35 years. He spoke about how we fertilize, and the processes utilized. He pointed out that there are “coated” fertilizers that won’t be washed into waterways and lakes (the way standard fertilizers are) but will resist the heavy rains of summer and slow release over time.
Also in attendance was Roger Jacobsen, Code Enforcement Manager for the City of Naples. Jacobsen emphasized the need for enforcement of regulations if they are to be effective.
It was agreed however, that fertilizer was only one part of the complicated issue facing water quality in communities throughout Florida. Stormwater was another factor impacting waterways and streams throughout the state.