March 21, 2011
The City of Sanibel today sent 250 letters with copies of a 100+ page study to municipalities with fertilizer ordinances or those about to enact ordinances, as well as to various opinion leaders throughout the state as we face strong renewed efforts to enact a weak state fertilizer ordinance that would prohibit municipalities from passing stricter ordinances of their own, as well as preempt existing local ordinances. The city's letter, from Vice Mayor Mick Denham, a champion on water quality issues, is informative, and we reprint it below. When you finish reading, take a look at the pictures on this website, one of which is right below this block, of PILES of red drift algae on Sanibel's beautiful beaches.
RE: Independent Study by FGCU, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Others Linking Excess Nitrogen to Red Drift Algae Blooms
In response to the City of Sanibel's position that excess nitrogen, and to some extent phosphorus, is intermittently exacerbating the algae blooms that have inundated Sanibel beaches in the past, we are sometimes referred to studies prepared by the University of Florida that are argued by the fertilizer industry to represent the science in this field.
The City of Sanibel and Lee County have jointly contributed approximately $700,000 to contract with nationally renowned scientific institutions to specifically study this issue. Florida Gulf Coast University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, National Coral Reef Institute and others have spent the past two years studying and researching this issue and have produced the report that is attached for your review. This independent and authoritative scientific report concludes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that excess nitrogen is the major factor leading to the magnified and exacerbated red drift algae blooms that, on a number of occasions, have resulted in fouling the beaches of the City of Sanibel, as well as other cities and counties in Florida.
Our city felt it essential that our legislators be aware that the science does strongly support the conclusion: nitrogen and to some extent phosphorus, which is introduced into our local waterways through the uncontrolled use of fertilizers, is a major contributing factor to the abnormal algae blooms and other events that occur in the Gulf of Mexico and in our bays and estuaries.
The introduction of nitrogen and phosphorus must be controlled at the local level in order to effectively address these issues. We believe our state legislators should respect the constitutional and statutory Home Rule authority of cities and counties to regulate and legislate in this area. PLEASE JOIN US IN URGING OUR STATE LEGISLATORS TO DEFEAT ANY LEGISLATION THAT ELIMINATES OR EVEN DIMINISHES OUR ABILITY TO ADDRESS THE LOCAL ISSUE OF EXCESS NITROGEN IN OUR LOCAL WATERS.
Sanibel Vice Mayor