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Cape Coral Strengthens Fertilizer Ordinance

October 12, 2021

On Oct. 6, the Cape Coral City Council voted unanimously to adopt changes to the city’s fertilizer ordinance designed to protect and improve water quality in Southwest Florida. With its 400 miles of canals and extensive waterfront development, the City of Cape Coral took an important step towards protecting local water quality by asking residents and businesses to further limit the use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers applied to the landscape. SCCF applauds city staff for their thorough review of the science supporting the recommendations and City Council’s decision to incorporate these important changes into the fertilizer ordinance.

The amendments to Ordinance 79-21 increase the “fertilizer-free” zone around environmentally sensitive areas from 10 feet to 15 feet and, when conditions are warranted, would authorize the City Manager to extend the fertilizer blackout period to include the month of May to capture the “first flush” of the rainy season. The ordinance would also prohibit the application of phosphorus unless an accredited soil test determines a phosphorus deficiency. It would also expand code enforcement and education to ensure residents and businesses are educated and in compliance with the fertilizer rules.

“We are encouraged by the attention this issue has received by the residents and businesses of Cape Coral in recognizing the role we all play in protecting and improving Southwest Florida’s water quality. Our communities cannot afford another year like 2018—where our canals and inland waterbodies were filled with blue-green algae and our coastal waters were littered with dead fish from red tide,” SCCF Environmental Policy Director James Evans said in a letter submitted to the Cape Coral City Council. “It is critical that we utilize every tool available to control the sources of nutrients that come from our own yards and landscapes.”

SCCF staff actively supported Cape Coral’s efforts to strengthen its existing fertilizer ordinance by participating in stakeholder meetings and testifying at the recent adoption hearing. SCCF applauds the City of Cape Coral for their leadership in working to improve water quality and addressing the role that excessive or improperly applied fertilizers play in the quality of our waters.

The unanimous approval by City Council will have a direct and positive impact on our environment, our economy, and the quality of life for Southwest Florida residents.


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