In great news for Casco Bay, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to limit the use of fertilizers in Maine’s largest city. On September 19, the council amended the city’s pesticide ordinance to become a landcare ordinance, which now includes policies that will:
- Prohibit the application of fertilizers within 75 feet of a water body, which includes Casco Bay and the streams that flow into it.
- Prohibit the application of fertilizers unless a soil test indicates a need for it.
- Prohibit the application of fertilizers on frozen ground.
- Limit the quantity and frequency of fertilizer application to performance turf.
These common sense policies are very similar to those found in South Portland’s fertilizer ordinance which was adopted in 2020. Friends of Casco Bay’s former Executive Director, Cathy Ramsdell, served on the committee that developed that ordinance. Limiting the use of fertilizers is not only good for soil health, but it is also great for the Bay.
In Casco Bay, excess nitrogen from fertilizers can cause excessive algal growth that can reduce water clarity, prevent juvenile clams from settling, and suffocate marine life that lives in mudflats. When an algal bloom dies off, its decomposition can lower oxygen levels and contribute to coastal acidification.
We applaud the City of Portland for taking action on this important issue and thank all the Portland residents who expressed their support for the landcare ordinance. Reducing fertilizer use makes a big difference for the health of Casco Bay.