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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.

WA Lege Day 50: The green grass of home

OLYMPIA – Washington homeowners would be restricted from putting fertilizer with phosphorus on healthy lawns under a bill that passed the House Monday.

Despite complaints from Republicans that homeowners are able to decide what fertilizer to put on their grass or that restrictions will send grass-growers across the border into Idaho for bootleg lawn spreads, Democrats passed a bill sought by Spokane and other cities seeking to cut down phosphorus in nearby lakes and streams.

Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, the bill’s sponsor, said similar restrictions in other states have been successful in lowering phosphorus levels that boost algae growth. The bill allows phosphorus fertilizers for new lawns, restoring dead lawns, for golf courses and for agricultural uses; it requires stores to sell non-phosphorus fertilizer for healthy lawns.

“Phosphorus is necessary in some uses but it is not necessary for a healthy lawn,” Billig said.
Representatives from Eastern Washington dominated much of the debate…

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