Businesses and associations, including RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) and CropLife America, recently filed a motion and supporting papers with the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, asking the Court to strike the City of Madison and Dane County ordinances banning the display, sale or use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus. According to the motion, these ordinances violate state and federal laws, as well as the Wisconsin and U.S. Constitutions.
The plaintiffs argue the bans, which took effect January 1, 2005, put area retailers at a disadvantage and will do little to clean up area lakes. According to Jim Skillen, manager of formulator issues for RISE, the City of Madison and Dane County believe that their ordinances will help alleviate the algae problem in local lakes. However, continues the brief, by removing inorganic, phosphorus-based fertilizers from the marketplace, the law will actually increase the phosphorus load in local lakes over the long term.
According to research from the University of Wisconsin Turfgrass Research Center, healthy, dense grass fertilized with phosphorus improves turf better than fertilizer without phosphorus and thus, limits runoff to almost nothing. Unfertilized turf can contribute 40 percent more phosphorus in runoff.
In a statement released about the filing, RISE argued that they had made every effort to avoid the lawsuit, but their efforts were rejected. “We believe we have a strong case and will prevail on the basis of scientific fact and the strength of the law,” concluded Skillen.