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Maryland’s New, Tough Lawn Fertilizer Law Aims to Protect Chesapeake Bay

The State of Maryland has instituted a broad swath of fertilizer regulations aimed at protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed and improving the Bay’s water quality. Currently, massive use of fertilizers contributes to algae blooms, murky water, and blocked sunlight for water life in America’s largest estuary.


The new restrictions, which went into effect on October 1, affect fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, lawn care professionals, homeowners and other residential users of fertilizers, as well as golf courses, parks, recreation areas, and athletic fields.


Specific requirements include: new labeling on fertilizer packaging; restrictions on applying fertilizer within 10 to 15 feet of waterways; certain prohibitions on applying fertilizer from November 15 to March 1; prohibitions on applying fertilizer to frozen ground or to pavements; certifications for companies hired to apply fertilizers; and curtailed use of fertilizers containing phosphorous.


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has been eagerly anticipating the new measures since 2011, saying that the new fertilizer law would cut Bay pollution and save money. “Once phosphorous gets into runoff,” CBF cites as an example, “it can cost more than US$30,000 per pound to remove it using engineered stormwater systems.”


CBF adds that researchers have estimated that runoff from lawns adds “millions of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorous each year to our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.”


For more information on the new Maryland fertilizer law and what you need to do to be in compliance, visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture website. In order to support CBF, visit their webpages, where you will be offered opportunities to donate, contact your elected officials, share your story, volunteer, or participate in education programs.

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