News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.), January 8, 2008
COMMON SENSE AND SCIENCE SAY CUT THE FERTILIZER
[Rachel's introduction: "The rationale [for the precautionary principle] is that modern technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too late to avert it."]
By Marti Daltry
I would like to address the comments made by the critics of a stronger fertilizer ordinance.
The quote ("Fertilizer limits feed debate," Jan. 2) from the Chem Lawn representative that "common sense is not science" demonstrates a limited understanding of the application of both science and common sense in public policymaking.
The Precautionary Principle, used by schools, social and environmental organizations as well as the U.S. government in creating and deciding on public policy, is the effective marriage of those two concepts.
The recent publication, "Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy," states, "The Precautionary Principle calls for taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in the absence of scientific certainty.
"The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too late to avert it."
One should not abandon either science or common sense when making an informed decision regarding the sustainable use of our natural resources.
In this instance, Lee County has moved beyond a bygone era of "tobacco science" and into a realm of collaborative policymaking with input from the entire community.
In response to Professor Trenholm's comment that buffer zones of 25 feet are ridiculous, it should be noted that the 25-foot buffer was established in the South Florida Water Management District rules for environmental resource permit applications.
In addition, the southeastern region of the FDEP recommends that homeowners "do not apply fertilizers or pesticides within at least 25 feet of the water's edge or the wetland." Furthermore, the EPA recommends a minimum riparian buffer of at least 7 meters, or almost 23 feet, to treat and remove nitrogen from storm water in urban areas.
Either SWFMD, the DEP, and the EPA are all mistaken or her "sound" scientific opinion is nothing more than an erroneous "sound bite."
Florida has been in the throes of a decreased rain cycle and the resulting drought that has persisted and may continue for several years.
Due to the continuing urban sprawl, population growth, and dry weather conditions, our water resources are threatened. To spend our finite water supply on the maintenance of emerald green lawns and water hungry exotic plants is a waste of precious resources.
We are all affected by water pollution, water quality and water availability. Our health, our economy and our environment depend upon it.
We all need to take responsibility to ensure that there will be water for everyone in Southwest Florida.
Responsible actions include changing our water wasting habits and reducing our water consumption by using native plants and ground covers, and reducing our use of fertilizer to prevent excessive nutrient runoff.
The trend towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly landscape is growing.
Let's make the sensible changes now before time and our water run out!
Marti Daltry is regional community organizer for the Sierra Club's Fort Myers office
Copyright 2008, The News-Press