South Florida’s rainy season is here! What do you need to know besides keeping an umbrella handy?
The summer can be hard on Biscayne Bay! It means higher temperatures and increased rainfall, which leads to more stormwater runoff from the streets and more fertilizer runoff from the land. The rain also soaks into the ground and raises the water table, which can further lead to flooded septic tanks and inundated sewage pipes. All of this means that there is more nutrient pollution in the water. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus make our plants grow on land, but they also cause pollution problems when too much gets into the water. Nutrient pollution is thought to be a primary cause of the fish kill last summer and the seagrass die-off in Biscayne Bay.
But there is one valuable way that you can help! Skip the fertilizer between May 15 and October 15! It is also part of the new County ordinance trying to limit pollution in our waterways. Other ways to be a water-safe fertilizer user: do not apply fertilizer within 20 feet of a storm drain or waterway, never use phosphorus fertilizer, and use at least 65 percent slow-release nitrogen mixes.
During the rainy season, the nutrients in fertilizer that support grass growth quickly runoff into waterways. So quickly, that your plants cannot use it and it turns into water pollution instead. So, rather than keeping your lawn green, applying fertilizer during the rainy season makes Biscayne Bay green.
When too much fertilizer or other kinds of nutrient pollution (such as stormwater, septic tanks, and sewage leaks) gets into Biscayne Bay, it can cause algae blooms and turn clear, blue water into a cloudy green or brown. This pollution can kill seagrass and lead to fish kills like we saw last summer.
At Miami Waterkeeper, we have made the fight against nutrient pollution one of our key campaigns. You can read more about the primary sources of nutrient pollution affecting our Bay here: SEPTIC, SEWAGE, FERTILIZER.
Together, we can restore Biscayne Bay and ensure clean water for generations to come.