A new study from the University of Michigan shows that phosphorus levels in the Huron River dropped an average of 28 percent after Ann Arbor adopted an ordinance in 2006 that curtailed the use of phosphorus fertilizers on lawns.
“It’s one of those things where political organizations take the action because they believe it’s the environmentally conscious thing to do, but there’s been no evidence offered in peer-reviewed literature that these ordinances actually have a salutary effect,” Says John Lehman, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan.
Now the evidence exists, though public education efforts and general increased environmental awareness among Ann Arbor residents could also be a factor.
Phosphorus, an essential plant nutrient, is found in every living cell, plant and animal. It makes a very green lawn and is common in store bought synthetic lawn fertilizer, but the fertilizer if often applied in too high of doses and seeps to ground water – causing algae blooms and killing fish.
“Although the science wasn’t difficult, its ramifications in a political sense and in an environmental sense will not be insignificant,” Lehman said.
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