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SWAG

May 31, 2019
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

When you see someone walk or talk with a swag, they are looking cocky, self-assured, confident, almost a swagger. Some people think this is sexy or cool. Or a swag can be drapery material draped in a swooping curve above a window, door or staircase, or at Christmas time, tied together evergreens in a swag (garland) to decorate for the Holiday.

I want to talk about the SWAG group I wrote about last September, the Safe Water Advocacy Group of Southwest Florida. They have been meeting regularly at Rotary Park here in Cape Coral. On May 13, they met and presented two versions of an updated Cape Coral Fertilizer Ordinance (drafts) to present to the city's Environmental Department.

Version 1 would be:

1. Increase the "Buffer Zone" of the no nitrogen/fertilizer from the present 10 feet to 15 feet.

2. Require educational posters and brochures in stores that sell fertilizer about the ordinance.

3. Increase the black-out period to include May. (Currently June through September).

4. Prohibit the sale and use of phosphorous at any time during the year

5. All fertilizer applicator businesses, desiring a city of Cape Coral business license, must show proof of BMP (Best Management Practices) 6-hour class for 100 percent of fertilizer company's employees who apply fertilizer.

6. City will increase marketing efforts to advertise the fertilizer ordinance (eg. digital billboards, water bill enclosure. "On the Run" city newspaper, Veteran's Bridge banner, LED portable signage, social media, city website, etc.)

7. City will increase awareness and promote Florida friendly landscaping techniques to residences in Cape Coral. (The wording of this one still needs more work)

8. Prohibit the sale of the fertilizers containing nitrogen during the prohibited application period . retailers must remove these fertilizers from the store shelves.

Version 2 is updated to reflect the following changes:

The SWAG team prefers the second version.

The city's Environment dDepartment is testing irrigation water for nitrogen levels. If results/levels are high enough, this may strengthen the case for version #2. This will help officials take interest and action to help reduce blue-green algae blooms on our 400 miles of canals.

Regarding the ban-of-sale of nitrogen and phosphorous during the black-out months, already in effect, every June 1 to Sept. 30, one person expressed concern over the legality of this action. There are at least three counties in Florida that have successfully passed regulations banning the sale of nitrogen to protect the waterways.

Slogans were discussed and the top four favorites were:

1) Fertilizer Feeds Algae! (BAN IN EFFECT NOW!)

2) Clean Water is Fertilize Free

3) Want clean water? STOP Fertilizing4) Cape Fertilizer BAN NOW!

A PowerPoint developed by Cheryl Black, "What is Blue Green Algae?" has been offered to the public; the Evergreen Neighborhood Association will show it in September. It is available to any group interested in showing it. There is a need to get water quality/environmental education into the schools and the public.

The need was discussed to keep the meetings in the evening during the summer months. Rotary Park will not be available due to Summer Camp sessions. The next meeting will be Monday June 24, at 6 p.m., at Big Blue Brewery (private room in the back), Cape Coral. Everyone interested is invited to come and participate.

I read where Costco is the first major retailer to stop selling Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide and agrees to drop all herbicides containing glyphosate according to Moms Across America, after the recent Johnson vs. Monsanto-cancer verdict was upheld. (They claimed exposure caused non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and other cancers.) Water runoff carries the carcinogenic and environmentally toxic ingredients into our water system. They have called on their members to contact Home Depot and Lowe's, asking them to do the same.

I heard on the TV, "Don't feed the Monster!" Cape Coral enacted an ordinance regulating the use of fertilizer in 2010. Excess nutrients impact the water quality within the city's canal system and surrounding waters. These nutrients can lead to algae blooms, decreased oxygen levels and fish kills. Best Management Practices apply to homeowners as well as commercial applicators, so they are encouraged (but not required) to learn about Florida-friendly landscaping practices. No fertilizing between June 1 and Sept. 30, no fertilizing within 10 feet of seawall or any body of water.

Exemptions are newly established plantings for a 60 day period after planting, vegetable gardens that are not within 15 feet of water, bona fide farming, pastures or scientific research plots.

Lawsuits by agriculture workers, (farmers and laborers) are pending. They are our frontline of food production.

This gets to be a touchy area, infringing on any company's right to do business, but self-regulation is necessary when our health and the health of our nation is at risk. We are not the only ones affected, our environment, pollinators and pets are in jeopardy. Have you seen the little signs on lawns, warning against pets rollicking in the grass? Barefoot children do, too. If they have cuts or sores on those precious toes and feet, it is hazardous. Cats and dogs are affected, the bee decline comes about.

There goes some of our food supply.

When you see shrubs or trees suddenly declining, it's for sure some killing chemical has drifted downwind and zapped them. On a recent trip to the doctor's office, I noticed dried up brown swales along the roadside. Betcha' they've been treated to chemical additives that kill plant growth.

My father was an agronomist, and we would have some lively discussions. The "Better Good" was discussed. "Better Good" promotes sustainable living, caring for the earth and everything on it. That leaves a lot to interpretation. Our future generations depend on it.

Trees shocked by drifting chemicals have a hard time surviving. Find a healthy tree that gives us oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide, and thank it for our good health.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.

 
 
 

 

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