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New rules for fertilizer use now in effect in Orange County

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Rules Aim to Curb Water Pollution, Protect Natural Water Bodies

ORANGE COUNTY – New rules stipulating how Orange County residents and businesses can apply fertilizer to their lawns and landscapes are now in effect. The rules, passed unanimously by the Board of County Commissioners earlier this year as updates to the County’s Fertilizer Management Ordinance, that aims to improve water quality and prevent algae blooms in local lakes, rivers and springs.

“This ordinance is one of many steps in the right direction to keep pollutants out of our waterbodies,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.

A key provision of the ordinance prohibits the application of fertilizer containing nitrogen during the restricted summer months, June 1 through September 30, and bans phosphorus year-round. Previous exceptions to trained commercial and residential applicators were eliminated.

Other changes include:

  • Increased application setback distances from natural water bodies from 15 to 25 feet
  • Total amount of nitrogen applied per 1,000 square feet per year capped at three pounds
  • All nitrogen-containing fertilizer applied to yards and landscapes during the non-summer months must contain at least 65 percent slow-release nitrogen

“Restricting the application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer is an important measure that will help protect our rivers, lakes, springs and groundwater from nutrient pollution and associated algae blooms,” said Environmental Programs Administrator for Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division, Julie Bortles.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved changes to Orange County’s Fertilizer Management Ordinance on February 8, 2022. Prior to that, the County updated its fertilizer rules in July 2017, and directed Orange County staff to investigate the sources of nutrient pollution in groundwater. Studies that were concluded in 2021 showed high levels of nitrates from fertilizer in groundwater and detected some increases in those levels during the summer rainy season.

To learn more about Orange County’s fertilizer management and water quality protection efforts, visit: