By Annoesjka Steinman, Mona Lake Watershed Council
In June 2006 through efforts initiated by the Mona Lake Watershed Council, Muskegon County, Michigan became the first county in the state to ban the sale and use of lawn fertilizers that contain phosphorus. Phosphorus bans in Dane and Madison Counties of Wisconsin as well as a ban in the State of Minnesota were the inspiration for the Muskegon ban. Several cities and townships in Michigan had have passed local ordinances as a way to address phosphorus inputs to lakes and streams. However, Muskegon County municipalities saw no need to piece-meal the effort and therefore helped the Mona Lake Watershed Council urge the County Commission to pass the first countywide ordinance.
Senator Kuipers (R-Holland) then introduced SB 840, which would force the repeal of any local ordinances that dealt with phosphorus fertilizers. Numerous environmental groups, including the Mona Lake Watershed Council, voiced strong opposition to SB 840. After much wrangling over the issue, the bill was eventually passed in July as a mere fertilizer labeling update, with all references to phosphorus removed from the Bill.
Efforts are now under way by other Counties in MI, including Kent and Ottawa, to adopt similar phosphorus bans. In addition, new initiatives are underway in Illinois and Indiana to ban phosphorus in automatic dishwasher detergent. Eventually, we will get the phosphorus inputs to our Great Lakes and local bodies of water under control.
For more information: Annoesjka Steinman, Mona Lake Watershed Council PH: 231-830-1600 E-mail: monalakewatershedcouncil@ earthlink.net.