Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a bill restricting phosphorus content in lawn fertilzers May 1st. The new law was enacted to protect Maine's lakes, which have been increasingly affected by algal growth and other symptoms of excessive phosphorus. Safe Lawns Executive Director Shepherd Ogden testified during the hearings on this bill, which capped almost ten years of work by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and NGOs like the Maine Congress of Lake Associations (COLA).
Maine's lakes and "Great Ponds" have been become increasingly polluted over the last few decades as devlopment of shorline and a concomitant increase in lawn area have occurred. Algal bloom harms lakes in a number of ways, and some economists have estimated that for every pound of phosphorus which enters a lake through run-off, some 15-20 pounds of algae will result, and the cost of removing that algae can run up to $200 per pound. Thus homeowners who put a little extra fertilizer on their lakeside lawn just to "green 'em up" are inadvertantly creating a huge tax increase for themselves as lake town and state budgets are strained by clean-up costs.
For more on the Maine bill, as well phosphorus and water quality issues in general, see the Maine DEP phosphorus web page at http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/doclake/fert/phospage.htm .