Impacts of residential fertilizer ordinances on Florida lacustrine water quality


Despite the assumption that residential fertilizer ordinances improve regional water quality, their impacts across space and time largely remain unknown. Here, we analyze changes in water quality of lakes throughout the State of Florida from 1987 to 2018, comparing trends in water quality parameters before and after implementation of county-wide fertilizer ordinances. We used a large dataset of publicly collected water quality data and linear mixed models to analyze ordinance impacts on total nitrogen, total phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and Secchi depth across 160 lakes throughout Florida. We further analyze water quality impacts relative to the type of ordinance (winter fertilizer ban, summer ban, nonseasonal ban, no ban). We found fertilizer ordinances favorably impacted lacustrine water quality, and winter (dry season) fertilizer bans had the greatest effect across all water quality metrics. Results of this study can be used to support the effectiveness of fertilizer ordinances across humid tropical and subtropical climate regions.

Limnology and Oceanography Letters