Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do we really need more rules to make us do the right thing?

An article in yesterday's Washington Post reports that a new study by the Environment Maryland  Research and Policy Center "calls on Maryland to consider following other states, such as New York and New Jersey, which recently banned the use of fertilizers with phosphorous…" Basically, the article is saying that home landscapes contribute a lot of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and that "the state" should impose restrictions on what products homeowners can use in their landscapes to help control the problem.

The article contains some great information:

Grassy turf, not farmland, is the most dominant crop in the bay watershed. There were almost 1.3 million acres of planted turf in Maryland in 2009, compared with 1.5 million acres of all other crops, says the study by the Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center. 

Yet it is the least regulated of the state's major crops.  

Pollution in the bay increases when nutrients wash into its waters from snow and rainfall. And many lawn fertilizers have an excess of two problematic nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorous.

And the 33 page report that the article references does have some great information about how our actions, as property owners, affect the water quality of the Bay. It then goes on to  list  recommendations for what changes could be made to regulate fertilizer use in home landscapes. Words such as dictate, ban, require, enforce, and prohibit are used.

 The question that came  to my mind is, do we really want and/or need more laws to get us to do the right thing in our landscapes? Or are we, as property owners, responsible and smart enough to make our own decisions?

My attitude has long been that we each need to take responsibility for our own share of the planet, but I admit that I'm a bit of an idealist.

The article goes on to quote Senator Cardin of Maryland as saying:

“All 17 million of us who live in the watershed need to be part of the restoration effort,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin(D-Md.). Not just wastewater facilities, municipalities and farmers, he said, but “homeowners and businesses also need to be part of the solution by reducing the chemicals we put on our lawns and other green spaces.”

The question is, are we responsible enough to make the right decisions on our own? Or do we need to wait for someone to make the decisions for us?

You can download the full 33 page report, Urban Fertilizers and the Chesapeake Bay here. And then you can let me know what you decide to do with your share of the planet.

Other posts about "shoulds" in the garden:

Should anyone else be able to tell you how you "should" garden?

"Shoulding" all over the place

Related article: Scott's to remove phosphorous in fertilizer

Patuxent River Clean-up Day – April 2

"To clean up a river, somebody has to get dirty!" ~ Patuxent Riverkeeper

As part of Earth Month, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Patuxent Riverkeeper are  encouraging residents to join with their watershed neighbors, scout troops and school groups to help pick up trash along Maryland’s longest river, the Patuxent River on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to Noon.

The Patuxent River is home to more than 100 species of fish, including bass, catfish, chain pickerel, and bluefish. The Patuxent sustains nesting and over wintering bald eagles and a large extended habitat for indigenous wildlife. Among overall Bay tributaries, the Patuxent ranks seventh in fresh water flow into the Chesapeake Bay.

There are many spots to choose from for this cleanup, including Supplee Lane Recreation Area. To participate,  meet at the parking lot at 16904 Supplee Lane Road, Laurel or Brown’s Bridge Recreation Area, 2220 Ednor Road, Silver Spring. 

Wear old clothes and sturdy shoes.  WSSC will provide plastic bags and gloves.

For a complete list of all cleanup sites, download this pdf file: Annual Patuxent River Spring Cleanup

Website by Water Words That Work LLC