Solutions for Biscayne Bay: Fertilizer


Fertilizer makes your plants grow on land, though when it gets into the waterways, it also feeds the algae and contributes to devastating algae blooms. To combat this, Miami-Dade passed the strongest fertilizer ordinance in the state in 2021. The ordinance includes the following key provisions:

  • A blackout period for fertilizer application in the rainy summer months, from May 15- October 31
  • A setback of 20 feet from waterways and storm drains.
  • 0% phosphorus in all fertilizers used.
  • At least 65% of nitrogen must be slow-release.

Critical to the success of this ordinance is public awareness and engagement. Everyone should know the best management practices of fertilizer use, ranging from homeowners to large corporate entities and industries like agriculture and golf courses, even if they are exempt from the ordinance. A strong statewide fertilizer ordinance would improve baseline regulations on fertilizer use.

Please note that this ordinance does not extend to golf courses, special athletic fields, and agricultural operations.


  • Advocate for Comprehensive State-Wide Regulations: Push for the development and implementation of a robust and statewide model fertilizer ordinance that uses Miami-Dade's parameters as a baseline.
  • Regulatory Autonomy: Work towards the removal of state preemption on the regulation of fertilizer sales to allow local jurisdictions more control over their fertilizer ordinances.
  • Agricultural Best Practices: Build support from agricultural interests in adopting best management practices to reduce fertilizer runoff, thereby keeping waterways clear and healthy.
  • Collaboration with Fertilizer Companies: Work with fertilizer companies to create compliant fertilizer mixes with 0% phosphorus and at least 65% slow-release nitrogen. This partnership can help ensure the availability of eco-friendly fertilizer options in the market.
  • Urban Planning: Incorporate nutrient reduction strategies into urban planning and development to reduce impervious surfaces and runoff.


  • Enforce Existing Regulations: Enforce the MDC fertilizer ordinance regulations.
    • No fertilizer application in the rainy season between May 15 - October 31.
    • 0% phosphorus and at least 65% slow-release nitrogen in fertilizer mix.
    • No fertilizer application within 20 ft of waterways and storm drains.
  • Education and Outreach: Expand public awareness campaigns to inform residents, homeowner associations, businesses, and landscapers about the proper use of fertilizers and the importance of following local ordinances.
  • Fertilizer Retailer Education: Work with local retailers to ensure they stock and promote fertilizers that meet local regulations and provide educational materials to customers. Promote phosphorus-free fertilizers.
  • Golf Course Outreach: Create an incentive-based golf course compliance and best practice program. Monitor and require reporting from golf courses.
  • Agricultural Community Outreach: Conduct education and outreach to the agricultural community about the proper use of and needs for fertilizers, emphasizing nutrient management plans and sustainable practices.
  • Water Quality Monitoring: Expand monitoring of Biscayne Bay pollution loads and set measurable targets for fertilizer-based nutrient reduction to track progress and ensure accountability.
  • Stop Agricultural Drawdown: Address the drawdown of water from agricultural operations that can contribute to nutrient pollution, potentially through regulations or incentives for responsible water use.


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