MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade County leaders hope a newly implemented fertilizer ban will help improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is the voice behind a public service announcement that details the reasons behind the ordinance that went into effect on Sunday and will be enforced through Oct. 31.
“Heavy rains during the wet season can flush fertilizers from your yard into our waterways, where it ultimately ends up into Biscayne Bay,” she said in the video.
Joel Amores, president of Apache Pest Control, said these bans are much needed in the Sunshine State.
“In Florida, we have a sandier soil, and nitrogen happens to move quickly through it, and we get a lot of excessive rain,” he said.
Boating, golfing and exercise along Biscayne Bay are all activities that can be impacted by runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus.
But it remains to be seen whether or not everyone is on board with the seasonal ban, which is the strongest fertilizer ordinance in Florida.
“There’s many things that are natural that you can use to take that away and use something that is more natural for the environment,” said resident Charlie Ortiz. “It doesn’t go into the water. It protects the bay and all the fish and in the wild.”
The new regulations do not apply to farms, pastures where livestock graze, food gardens, golf courses or certain athletic fields.
Is the health of Biscayne Bay enough to rally skeptics who might prioritize a lush green lawn over the algae blooms fueled by runoff?
“I’m a big time fisherman, so I actually care about our water quality and all that,” said Amores.
Rachel Silverstein with Miami Waterkeeper said algae and contaminants from pollution are killing the main source of food for Florida’s manatees.
“We want plenty of food for manatees. We want fat manatees around Biscayne Bay and in Florida, and that means they need plenty of seagrass,” she said.
Fertilizer bans are nothing new for Seattle transplant Therese Day, since restrictions on fertilizers with phosphorus have been in place in her previous home since 2013.
But even after fish kills in Miami-Dade in 2020 and 2021, Day said, a recent conversation with neighbors shows some might still need to be convinced.
“I said, ‘I’m not using those chemicals on our yard because I’m getting over cancer and my next-door neighbor has tiny children,’ and there was a lot of silence after that,” she said.
Fines range from $50 for private property owners to $500 for private institutions and businesses.
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