NJ enacts toughest US rules on fertilizer

NJ enacts toughest US rules on fertilizer

By WAYNE PARRY • Associated Press • January 5, 2011


WARETOWN, N.J. — New Jersey adopted the nation’s toughest restrictions on fertilizer today as part of a package of bills signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie to protect the fragile Barnegat Bay from further pollution.

Runoff from fertilizer applied to lawns and farms eventually makes its way into waterways and contributes to water pollution and fish-killing algae blooms.

The bills require upgrades to malfunctioning storm drains, force contractors to loosen soil that becomes hard-packed.

A key provision requires that at least 20 percent of nitrogen in fertilizer sold in New Jersey be the slow-release type to prevent it from easily washing into waterways.

Christie signed the bills in Waretown, a Barnegat Bay boating and crabbing community.

“Over the years there have been studies and talks and conversations about taking the necessary steps to save Barnegat Bay, but very little action,” Christie said in the clubhouse of a bayfront beach club after signing the bills. “Today you saw action.”

Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director of Environment New Jersey, said the bills are a good first step in a long process to undo decades of pollution and neglect.

“This is a big day for the Barnegat Bay and the state’s waterways,” she said. “Fertilizer pollution is the invisible scourge that has been slowly polluting our bays, rivers and streams.”

Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club, called the bills “a victory for the environment.”

“Without these bills especially, the fertilizer bill, the bay will die,” he said. “These bills are each a piece of the puzzle to protect the bay and our environment.”

Christie said he was signing “the toughest fertilizer standards in America,” and noted the fertilizer industry gave significant opposition to the proposed standards before both sides agreed on the 20 percent nitrogen requirement.

Nitrogen is a major component of water pollution. It leads to algae blooms that deprive water of oxygen and kill fish and other marine life.
It also encourages the growth of stinging jellyfish, which have overrun the bay and rivers near it, including the Manasquan and Metedeconk, making them virtually unswimmable at times and clogging the engines of some boats.

“How people and towns manage their lawns, soil and stormwater affects the health of NJ’s waters — especially Barnegat Bay,” said Heather Saffert, a staff scientist for the Clean Ocean Action environmental group. “These laws help reduce pollution and increase the public’s awareness of these problems and importance of our natural resources.”

Another essential part of the state’s plan to protect the bay is an agreement negotiated last month with the owners of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to shut down the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant in 2019, 10 years earlier than expected.

It is located next door to Waretown in the Forked River section of Lacey Township.

The plant sucks 1.4 billion gallons a day from the bay into its pipes, and discharges warmer water back into the bay, which hurts water quality. The plant agreed to shut down early in return for New Jersey backing off its demand that it build costly cooling towers to replace the massive water intake to cool the plant.

A fourth Barnegat Bay bill that passed the state legislature was not part of the package signed into law today. It would establish a “total daily maximum load” for nutrients like nitrogen that can be allowed to enter the bay each day.

Christie said that bill is still in legal review.

thats good. we dont really have to have the greenest lawn on the block. I have noticed the last year or so that many lawn fertelizers no longer contain phostphate. that helps limit algae growth too in the bays.

Over the years the price of the bagged fertilizer has gone up so that the chem lawn companies are priced more competitive. The companies usually don’t over fertilize and add additional nutrients to run off.

Hopefully in the future Delaware and Maryland can better regulate the effluent from farms and resident properties inside the Chesapeake watershed.