Phosphorous Free In Union County

A big shout out to the Passaic River communities of Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights. They are the first three New Jersey municipalities to ban the use of phosphorous lawn fertilizers and restrict when and how residents can use other lawn fertilizing products. (Excess phosphorous stimulates the growth of algae and other aquatic plants that can foul waterways.) The new fertilizer rules are part of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s push to limit the runoff of chemicals into the state’s rivers and streams. The DEP wants all communities in the eight Passaic River counties – Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Union – to follow suit. Enforcing the new bans may be trickier than passing them, said Summit Councilman Tom Getzendanner: “We aren’t going to have environmental police running around.” But if community officials make an effort to educate their constituents about the dangers of phosphorous lawn fertilizers and introduce them to effective, biodegradable alternatives, Passaic River  communities may just police themselves. Peter Grant, Director of Horticulture and Site Preservation at the Summit Arboretum, is taking the first step in that direction by offering two workshops on how to have a beautiful lawn and still comply with the new no-phosphorous regs.
Grant’s workshops are Wednesday, Sept 30th at 7:00 pm and Saturday, October 3rd at 10 am. No charge for Summit residents.
To register call 908.273.8787, ext 1414.


Lax Enforcement of Clean Water Act

On Sunday, The New York Times ran an investigative report about rampant violations of the nation’s Clean Water. More distressing than the violations though was the lax enforcement by state and federal environmental agencies. According to The Times, records submitted by polluters themselves show that “the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies” around the U.S. Most of those transgressions went unremarked by local, state and federal regulators. In New Jersey enforcement of the Clean Water Act is actually pretty strong. The state ranked fourth in overall enforcement rate, behind Nevada (#1), North Carolina (#2) and Oregon (#3). Some of the credit for that respectable showing belongs to Lisa Jackson, former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Not long after Jackson publicly dared Passaic River polluters to do the right thing and clean up their mess, the state reached agreement with corporate polluters and the process of cleaning up dioxin-laden Passaic River sediments finally got underway. If Jackson takes the same hard-nosed stand at the federal EPA, Clean Water Act violators and regulators would be well advised to clean up their acts.