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Hillsborough limits summer fertilizer use

The new ordinance follows a summer of fish kills in Tampa Bay and elsewhere.

TAMPA – Hillsborough County wants to reduce fish-killing pollution in Tampa Bay.

Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance limiting fertilizer use during Florida’s rainy season. It prohibits application of landscape fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorus from June 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

The goal is to reduce Red Tide and other nutrient-triggered toxic algae blooms that result in fish kills and other ecological damage. Commissioner Mariella Smith first proposed the ordinance after dead fish swamped Apollo Beach canals and other county locations over the summer.

Hillsborough’s ordinance is similar to rules followed by Tampa, Pinellas and 14 other counties in the state. The Hillsborough ordinance does not ban fertilizer sales. Agricultural land is exempt.

“It is much cheaper, easier and more effective to prevent pollution from entering the bay than it is to clean up the bay after the damage has been done,” Smith said Wednesday.