Effects of Urban Fertilizer Ordinances on Water Quality
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water quality
fertilizer application
environmental law
fertilizer legislation
urban landscapes


How to Cite

Reisinger, Alexander J., Michael Dukes, Basil V. Iannone III, J. Bryan Unruh, and Samuel J. Smidt. 2024. “Effects of Urban Fertilizer Ordinances on Water Quality: SL511/SS724, 01/2024”. EDIS 2024 (1). Gainesville, FL. https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-ss724-2024.


Originating from environmental or humans sources, too much nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P) in water bodies can degrade water quality. In an attempt to reduce the contribution of human sources of N and P to local waters, urban fertilizer ordinances have been adopted in at least 35 counties in Florida and 97 additional Florida municipalities. Despite this work, the efficacy of fertilizer ordinances are debated by end users. The purpose of this publication is to summarize a peer-reviewed, scientific article that investigated impacts of fertilizer on long-term water quality trends in Florida lakes (Smidt et al. 2022) and is intended to be used by UF/IFAS Extension faculty and/or regulatory officials considering adopting or modifying an urban fertilizer ordinance. We encourage green industry professionals and concerned community members to share the effectiveness of fertilizer ordinances.

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Carey, R. O., G. J. Hochmuth, C. J. Martinez, T. H. Boyer, V. D. Nair, M. D. Dukes, G. S. Toor, A. L. Shober, J. L. Cisar, L. E. Trenholm, and J. B. Sartain. 2012. “A Review of Turfgrass Fertilizer Management Practices: Implications for Urban Water Quality.” HortTechnology. 22(3): 280–291. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH.22.3.280

Dukes, M. D., L. Krimsky, M. Lusk, L. E. Trenholm, J. B. Unruh, M. Atkinson, R. Mylavarapu, and C. R. Warwick. 2020. “Urban Fertilizer Ordinances in the Context of Environmental Horticulture and Water Quality Extension Programs: Frequently Asked Questions: AE534, 2/2020.” EDIS 2020 (1). https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-ae534-2020

Krimsky, L. S., M. G. Lusk, H. Abeels, and L. Seals. 2021. “Sources and Concentrations of Nutrients in Surface Runoff from Waterfront Homes with Different Landscape Practices.” Science of the Total Environment. 750: 142320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142320

Reisinger, A. J., M. G. Lusk, and A. R. Smyth. 2020. “Sources and Transformations of Nitrogen in Urban Landscapes: Sl468/SS681, 3/2020.” EDIS 2020 (2). https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-ss681-2020

Shaddox, T. W. 2017. "General Recommendations for Fertilization of Turfgrasses on Florida Soils." SL21. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/LH014

Shaddox, T. W., J. B. Unruh, and L. E. Trenholm. 2016. “Nitrate Leaching from Soluble Nitrogen Applied to ‘Floratam’ St. Augustinegrass and Common Centipedegrass during Dormancy.” Crop Science. 56(2): 837–844. https://doi.org/10.2135/cropsci2015.02.0104

Smidt, S. J., D. Aviles, E. F. Belshe, and A. J. Reisinger. 2022. "Impacts of residential fertilizer ordinances on Florida lacustrine water quality." Limnology and Oceanography Letters. 7(6): 475–482. https://doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10279

Sullivan, G. M., and R. Feinn. 2012. “Using Effect Size—or Why the P Value Is Not Enough.” Journal of Graduate Medical Education. 4(3): 279–282. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-12-00156.1

Trenholm, L. E., J. B. Unruh, and J. B. Sartain. 2012. “Nitrate Leaching and Turf Quality in Established ‘Floratam’ St. Augustinegrass and ‘Empire’ Zoysiagrass.” Journal of Environment Quality. 41(3): 793-799. https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2011.0183

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