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WA Lege Day 82: Ban on phosphorus in lawn fertilizer passes

OLYMPIA -- The Legislature has approved a ban in lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorus. On a 56-37 vote, it sent to the governor a bill that bans the sale of that type of fertilizer -- in most instances -- starting in 2013.

The bill, HB 1489, went through several versions. This last one allows the use of phosphorus laced fertilizers to start a new lawn or to repair a damaged one, but bans it on healthy lawns. It doesn't restrict phosphorus in fertilizers for farming, in flower or vegetable gardens or house plants.

The theory behind it -- in dispute during hearings and debate -- is that phosphorus is less likely to bind with the soil when applied to healthy lawns, and with rain or overwatering more likely to run off the lawn, down the storm drain and into the nearby streams, rivers and lakes. Once there, it tends to help algae grow.

The bill was supported by the City of Spokane as a way to cut down on phosphorus loading in the Spokane River and Lake Spokane. It now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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