Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Senate Passes Bill To Control Overuse Of Fertilizer On Turf, Certify Applicators; Now Goes To House Where It Died Last Session

On May 27, the Senate passed  Senate Bill 915 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) which sets standards for the application of fertilizer to turf, provides for the certification of professional fertilizer applicators and for labeling and an education program.
There was one vote opposing the bill-- Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango).
The Senate amended the bill before final passage.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
The goal of the legislation is to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient pollution going into Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams.  The legislation was included as a recommendation in Pennsylvania’s latest Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.
“The health of Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers is of critical importance to our economic future and quality of life,” said Sen. Yaw, in an earlier release.  “Unfortunately, thousands of miles of streams in the Commonwealth are impaired due to excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Excess levels of these nutrients are also significant contributors to the impairment of the Chesapeake Bay, whose watershed covers 50 percent of our state.
“For decades, Pennsylvania’s farmers have led the way to implement erosion and sedimentation controls, nutrient management plans and other best management practices on farms.” explained Sen. Yaw.  “More recently, wastewater treatment plants have begun to implement upgrades to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus emissions. Both sectors should be commended for their successful efforts.
“Unfortunately, as these sectors continue to implement nutrient reductions, high levels in urban and suburban storm water continue to grow. In the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, acres of turf now outnumber acres of corn,” he said.
“This legislation will reduce the environmental impact of fertilizer applied to turf areas, such as lawns, golf courses and athletic fields, while ensuring that all turf areas within the Commonwealth will be able to receive adequate nutrients so that adverse turf health will not result as an unintended consequence,” said Sen. Yaw.
Similar legislation has already been enacted in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, and the industry has expressed a strong desire for consistency across the region and state.
Legislation like this passed the Senate in 2018 as Senate Bill 792 (Alloway-R-Franklin).  The House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill last June, but did not consider it.
“This common sense legislation represents an important vehicle for clean water in Pennsylvania. We applaud the Senate and leaders like Senator Yaw for passing Senate Bill 915, which seeks to reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous that enter waterways across Pennsylvania,” said Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO of PennFuture. “Thousands of miles of our rivers and streams are polluted with these nutrients, which drastically impacts water quality, aquatic life and recreation opportunities. This fair and reasonable legislation will improve water quality in Pennsylvania for decades to come.”​
Related Article:
[Posted: May 27, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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