How to help Vero Beach, Sebastian, Port St. Lucie, Indian River Lagoon; pass plastic law

Want to prevent algae blooms? Stop using fertilizer on lawns during rainy season

People are always asking, “What can we do to help the lagoon?”

Observing the upcoming fertilizer ban is one opportunity to do so. All residents of Indian River County, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and Orchid are subject to a local ban that starts June 1 and ends Sept. 30. It coincides with the start of our rainy season, when more nutrients, such as the nitrogen and phosphorous in fertilizer, are likely to be washed from our lawns, driveways and roads into the stormwater system and, ultimately, into our local waters such as the Indian River Lagoon.

These excess nutrients are the fuel for toxic algae blooms that impair marine life and human health.

No fertilizer containing phosphorous is to be used anytime. All fertilizers must contain at least 50% slow-release nitrogen. If your community uses reuse water for irrigation, no fertilizer is ever necessary as there are ample nutrients already in the reuse water. Finally, no fertilizer is to be applied within 10 feet of any water body, and grass clippings are not to be blown into storm drains, canals, the lagoon or onto roadways.

If you or your association uses a lawn care provider, please discuss these regulations with them. For details regarding the ordinance and fertilizing tips, please see or email Alexis Peralta, the county’s stormwater educator and fertilizer enforcement officer, at [email protected].

Complying with the fertilizer ordinance and reporting any violators is one way we can all personally contribute to cleaning up our local waters.

Jean Catchpole, Vero Beach, is secretary of the Indian River Neighborhood Association and the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County.

Jim Moir, the Indian Riverkeeper executive director, uses his compost while giving a tour of his fertilizer-free yard, Thursday, July 20, 2023, in the Rocky Point community of Port Salerno. “I haven’t used fertilizers in a long time, there’s no reason to here in Florida,” said Moir. “We’ve got a surplus phosphate in the soil and we get lots of nitrogen from the sky. I chose not to pollute my community, I chose not to pollute my backyard, I chose not…