Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, that bans lawn fertilizer with phosphorus in it.
The bill, HB 1489, is aimed at getting phosphorus out of waterways, where it results in algae blooms and causes water-quality problems. In Lake Whatcom, as you all know, it’s degrading the water quality and resulting in the need for more chemicals to help make the water drinkable.
“Lake Whatcom is under serious threat from algae blooms,” Morris stated in a press release. “This is a common-sense solution that keeps lawn care up, but also tackles a growing health and environmental threat.”
Whatcom County already bans the use of fertilizers containing the nutrient in the Lake Whatcom and Lake Samish watersheds, although the county allows them on newly established lawns in the first growing season.
The city of Bellingham also bans fertilizers with phosphorus in the watershed.
The bill still allows fertilizers with phosphorus when they’re being used to grow new or repair damaged turf. Also, they’re allow on farmland.
Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, voted for it, and Reps. Vincent Buys, R-Everson, and Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, voted against it.
In the Senate, Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, voted for the bill, and Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, voted against it.Before signing the bill, Gregoire did a little line-item vetoing. She eliminated a section that would have prevented the state Department of Agriculture from levying civil penalties for violations.
“Without this tool, the Department would be unable to effectively implement the bill,” she wrote in her veto message.
She also said she was disappointed the bill didn’t exempt fertilizers made from biosolids, manure and other organic materials.
These products provide a valued and beneficial use of materials that would otherwise need to be managed as waste. Since the bill is not effective until January 2013, I would entertain legislation in 2012 to exempt these organic products from the limits established in the bill.
Click here to see my previous post on this bill.