State Senate approves bill that restricts phosphorus-filled fertilizers

MADISON — After receiving unanimous approval in the Assembly in February, today the state Senate also unanimously approved a bill that restricts residential use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus. The bill will now be sent to Governor Jim Doyle to be signed into law.

This bill is a great win for Wisconsin’s waterways. When phosphorus runoff, whether from residential lawn treatments or agricultural waste and fertilizers, gets into lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and wetlands, the phosphorus promotes excess plant growth, particularly of nuisance aquatic plants and stinky algae. Toxic algae blooms also become more likely as excess phosphorus builds up in our waterways. Restricting residential fertilizer is one step toward restoring the health and beauty of Wisconsin rivers and lakes, including the Great Lakes, for safe swimming, boating, fishing and general enjoyment.

“This is one of the first environmental bills to be debated in the Assembly this year, and we’re glad legislators are taking such a strong stance on environmental protections,” said Amber Meyer Smith, Program Director for Clean Wisconsin. “The unanimous vote in both houses indicates the Legislature’s strong support for clean water.”

Senate Bill 5/Assembly Bill 3 prohibits the sale and residential application of fertilizer containing phosphorus to turf in Wisconsin except in certain circumstances. The bill was introduced with bipartisan support, authored by Senators Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Representatives Spencer Black (D-Madison) and Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay).

“Phosphorus bans have been working in other areas for years — most notably in Dane County — without any problems,” concluded Smith. “We look forward to Gov. Doyle quickly signing this bill into law, so we can take this positive step toward improving Wisconsin’s waterways.”