Monday, September 08, 2008

Acting Locally: in Westport, It's 'Paper or Paper?' In Westchester, Lawn Fertilizer Restrictions May Be on the Way In.

Westport last week became the first community east of the Mississippi to ban merchants from offering plastic bags to customers (thanks to my friends at Citizens Campaign for the Environment for the heads up). (11:13 A.M. -- Note the correction in the comments section)

And Westchester County will hold a hearing today on a bill that would restrict on the use and sale of phosphorus fertilizers, to protect up-county reservoirs,, prevent all lawn fertilizer use from November through March, and start a county-sponsored public education campaign designed to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers, to protect Long Island Sound. If I learn why the law doesn't restrict the sale and use of fertilizers with nitrogen, I'll let you know.

Nitrogen, of course, is the key cause of the low dissolved oxygen problem that hits the western half of the Sound each summer. Essentially all of the Sound off Westchester County had dissolved oxygen concentrations near zero late last month, which means a big part of the Sound was essentially worthless as habitat, as usual. I say "as usual," although Save the Sound notes that this year was probably worse that usual (I'm linking to this story, here, -- where's the apostrophe in the headline? -- because Save the Sound's press release doesn't seem to be online. Wednesday update: it's online now, here).

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6 Comments:

Blogger David said...

A correction on the Westport plastic bag ban story should be noted. It turns out Nantucket beat Westport to it: The town passed an ordinance in the early 1990s requiring all retail businesses to use non-plastic, biodegradable packaging.
-- David Funkhouser

11:10 AM  
Blogger Tom Andersen said...

That's what I get for taking an assertion from an environmentalist at face value without checking it out. My apologies. Reminds me of one of the key rules of reporting: if your mother says she loves you, check it out. (Never trust an editor is another rule.)

11:13 AM  
Blogger David said...

Good advice re: checking things out. I made the same mistake, based on a few sources saying it was the first town on the East Coast, plus an internet search for any others that may have passed such a ban. Google may be handy, but it is not infallible.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Well I've been toasted by the fact checkers before, and appreciate their help many a time!

As to the story about phasing-down phosphorus and nitrogen, I think that's great!

I was just reading on Grist about how harvesting seaweed can be the best thing you can do for your garden.
-sam

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Ed Bateson, Fairfield said...

Tom,

When you get time please post follow up on fertilizer ban and rationale for exclusion of nitrogen (if proven true) when you come across this info.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Tom Andersen said...

Ed,
Here's what someone who has worked on this for the county government told me: "It seems the case for against phosphorus has matured – due to the fact that most turf/soils in Westchester don’t need it (also see attached article) - whereas the same technical argument can’t be made against nitrogen. Of course most homeowners use way to much of both."

In other words environmental scientists haven't yet made the case for a nitrogen ban.

tom

10:12 AM  

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