Apr 13, 2012

Learn how you can protect the Onondaga Lake watershed from phosphorous pollution!

As we welcome the return of warm weather, many of us are turning to lawn maintenance. Did you know that what you do on your lawn can impact the rest of the watershed? Chemical fertilizers and pesticides ultimately make their way into the streams through stormwater runoff, and they build up in Onondaga Lake. 

Phosphorous, a nutrient found in lawn fertilizer, causes serious problems when it builds up to high concentrations in waterways. Today there are over 70 waterbodies in New York State that are suffering from phosphorous pollution. High levels of phosphorous cause algae blooms that damage water quality and lower the amount of dissolved oxygen available to fish and other aquatic organisms. Phosphorous pollution also negatively affects drinking water supplies, local recreation, and tourism. It is expensive to remove phosphorous from stormwater, so it’s really important to prevent pollution in the first place.

This year, a new state law went into effect to protect our waterways from excessive phosphorous pollution by setting limits on fertilizer use. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), “Under the new provisions of the law, the use of phosphorus fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf is restricted.  Only lawn fertilizer with less than 0.67 percent by weight phosphate content may be applied legally. Application of any fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium on lawns or non-agricultural turf is prohibited between December 1 and April 1. Application of any fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf within 20 feet of a water body or on paved surfaces is restricted.  Retailers must display phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus-free fertilizer and must post signs notifying customers of the terms of the law.” 

For more information about the new law and how you can help protect our watershed from phosphorous pollution, visit the DEC’s website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/67239.html

Setting Limits on Phosphorous Pollution in Onondaga Lake

The DEC has developed a draft document that outlines limits on phosphorous pollution in Onondaga Lake. This document is available for public review and comment. The following information was provided through DEC’s Onondaga LakeNews Listserv:

“In accordance with federal requirements, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has prepared a draft document that proposes to allocate phosphorus discharges to Onondaga Lake.  This document is called the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Phosphorus in Onondaga Lake and is available for review and comment by visiting www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/67594.html.  It essentially represents a pollution budget for phosphorus contribution to the lake.  Phosphorus is a nutrient found in fertilizers, human wastes, industrial wastes, agricultural runoff and storm water.  In excess, it can cause algal blooms and excessive plant growth in water bodies.

A Total Maximum Daily Load specifies the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.  TMDLs account for all contributing sources (e.g., point & nonpoint sources, and natural background levels), seasonal variations in the pollutant load, and incorporate a margin of safety that accounts for unknown or unexpected sources of the pollutant. ….

The proposed allocations have already been presented and discussed with many of the entities that discharge phosphorus to the lake, and the allocations are ultimately subject to approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” 

Public comments are due by close of business on April 27th. For more information about how to submit comments, click here.

Apr 3, 2012

Get Your Rain Barrel, April 25!

With spring arriving, it’s time to bring out the rain barrels! Save the Rain's next rain barrel workshop will be held on April 25th at Mundy Branch Library (1204 S. Geddes St.) from 5:30 – 7:15 PM.

Attendees will learn how to properly install and maintain a rain barrel. All city residents who attend the workshop are eligible to receive a free rain barrel. Space is limited! To guarantee your spot, please call Amy at 443-1757 or e-mail asamuels@oei2.org.