The town of Jupiter is banning fertilizer use during the rainy season to keep nitrogen and phosphorus out of local bodies of water.
Starting this Saturday, residents and commercial property owners won’t be able to use commonly available fertilizers until October.
The ban passed last November, and is being put into effect for the first time on June 1. It applies to residential properties and some commercial areas. Farms, golf courses and other specialty turf fields, like athletic fields, are exempt.
A similar ban was previously adopted in nearby Martin County.
Jupiter’s Utility Services Manager, David Rotar, said the ban is important because many people applying fertilizer don’t know the excess chemicals will drain into local bodies of water.
“They think, ‘Well, I’m not near the water, so my drainage system isn’t gonna get there,’ but that’s not necessarily true,” he said. “All drainage within Jupiter will end up either in Sims Creek, Jones Creek, the Loxahatchee River or the Intracoastal.”
An excess of nutrients in the Loxahatchee and other local bodies of water can cause algae growth that exceeds what the natural ecosystem is equipped to handle – which, in turn, can deplete oxygen in the water and hurt fish. Some excessive algae blooms are also harmful to humans.
Rotar said the town has been sending out emails about the new rules to landscapers and lawn care businesses, pushing information on social media and working with the local Home Depot and SiteOne Landscaping Supply to put up signs about it.
The town’s website lists BeFloridianNow.org as a resource to find fertilizers without nitrogen and phosphorus, which are permitted during the ban.
Violators of the ban won’t be subject to a fine or other punitive response. Rotar said the town plans instead to educate violators about the ban and why it’s important to keep chemicals out of the water.
“Nine times out of 10, we’re pretty successful – no matter which code we’re enforcing – when we take that tactic versus trying to go to a fine,” he said.