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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: April 9, 2013 11:16 AM
From: Senator Mike Brubaker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Fertilizer Use On Turf
The health of Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers is of critical importance to our economic future and quality of life. Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants all Pennsylvanians the right to clean water and places our natural resources in trust for the benefit of all. 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 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. 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, the loads from urban and suburban stormwater continue to grow.

To address this disparity, I intend to introduce legislation to 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. In addition to setting clear standards for the application of fertilizer to turf, the bill will also require all professional fertilizer applicators to be certified in proper application techniques and best management practices. This legislation is specifically focused on the lawn care industry and will not apply to agricultural production.

This bill will be a modification of SB 1191 which was introduced in 2011. The fertilizer and landscape industries have been consulted during the drafting of this version, and the bill will address many of their concerns while also serving to protect water quality. 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.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Stephanie Buchanan, at 717-787-4420 or sbuchanan@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB1149