Largo city commissioners considered the county's fertilizer ordinance Tuesday, deciding to join in the countywide plan to ban the sale of certain fertilizers during summer months to cut down on the potential for water pollution.
Troy Tinch, the city's stormwater program coordinator, said because fertilizers containing high amounts of nitrogen or phosphorus can degrade water quality by spurring algae blooms, the ban was necessary to preserve local waterways.
"These algal blooms eventually lead to deprived oxygen levels, which lead to fish kills," Tinch said.
The commissioners were unanimous in accepting the restrictions.
"I certainly support going with the county ordinance," Commissioner Robert Murray said.
If the city did not adopt the county's regulations, it would be forced to research and create its own plan — and based on county director for watershed management Kelly Levy's experience, that might not be the best option for Largo.
"It was very expensive," she said of the county's efforts.
By deciding not to reject the county's plan, the city would automatically fall under the ban, which goes into effect in 2011, and would require retailers in Pinellas to stop selling nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizers between May 1 and Sept. 30.
Levy said there are no plans for the county or any cities to send out "fertilizer police" to check on homeowners, but will spot-check retailers during the summer to ensure compliance.
"If it can't be sold, it can't be put down," Levy said.
County officials are planning a flier blitz to educate homeowners about the ban.
"Summer safe" fertilizers that use ingredients like iron would be legal during the summer months, and commercial fertilizer users, like athletic fields, nurseries and community gardens, would be exempt.
The ban also contains a provision that could affect homeowners year-round, because it bans nitrogen-based fertilizer use in any month before heavy rains, and bans phosphorus-based fertilizer at all times, unless a soil test reveals a deficiency.
Dominick Tao can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 580-2951.