(HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. May 29, 2014) – County Executive Steve Bellone announced additional funding today to support Suffolk County’s nitrogen fertilizer reduction initiative. The funding ensures all Suffolk County licensed landscapers attend an educational course on the harmful environmental impacts of improper application of fertilizers as well as funds for education and public outreach to residents on the harmful effects of misuse of fertilizers. This is part of the Reclaim Our Waters initiative, a comprehensive plan proposed by County Executive Bellone to reduce excessive levels of nitrogen pollution caused by septics, cesspools, and fertilizers.
“The only way to protect Suffolk County’s water quality is through a comprehensive approach,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “In Suffolk County, we rely on our groundwater, a sole source aquifer, to provide for all of our drinking water. Anything we do on land impacts the quality of our groundwater.”
Suffolk officials noted that lawn care products, such as fertilizers, produce significant amounts of nitrogen-laden stormwater runoff which depletes oxygen in streams, lakes, and estuaries. The depletion of oxygen in water bodies eventually leads to the destruction of wetlands and coastal vegetation, a primary defense against storms like Superstorm Sandy.
“As a committed member of the horticultural community on Long Island, I am happy to hear that funding is being pursued to continue the educational component of the existing law,” said Carol Saporito of BISSETT Nurseries and board member of the Nursery and Landscape Association. “As professionals, we would like to see this expanded to reach and teach the homeowner as well. Many Long Islanders apply their own fertilizer and too often the adage ‘more is better’ is followed.”
As part of the course, landscapers will learn about the prohibition dates on fertilizer application, the environmental consequences of nitrogen runoff, alternatives to turf grass such as native plantings, proper use and application techniques of fertilizer, and information on soils. Courses are taught through the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.
In addition, the funding ensures all fertilizer retail locations to post educational signs and brochures for homeowners adjacent to their fertilizer displays. The County is responsible for providing the informational material.
“Common household practices of lawn care, landscaping, and grounds maintenance, all of which may utilize nitrogen-based fertilizers, make it necessary to provide educational material to residents, businesses, and lawn care professionals,” added County Executive Bellone.
For more information on steps residents can take to reduce their nitrogen footprint, visit healthylawns.suffolkcountyny.gov or www.scwa.com/environment/fertilizer.