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Posted on: April 25, 2022

Lakes & Waterways Commission Educates on Dangers of Lawn Fertilizer

News Flash - Lake Gardner Sunset

The Lakes & Waterways Commission, along with Mayor Gove and Health Inspector Deb Ketchen, recently sent a letter to local landscaping companies asking for their help to keep our waterways clean. Residents can also help by choosing the right lawn fertilizer! 

Amesbury’s waterways are in danger of harmful algae blooms, which negatively impact our environment and our quality of life, and are expensive to treat. Fertilizers and nutrients, including phosphorus-based lawn fertilizer, encourage the growth of the algae blooms. When it rains, the runoff from lawns surrounding the watershed travels to streams and storm drains and empties into our waterbodies. This can create algae blooms which turn the water green, can cause fish kills, and can potentially shut down the waterbodies for swimming, boating, fishing, and other recreation.

This memorandum is to serve as a reminder of Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) law and ask for your help as we work to take care of our waterways. We are also including a helpful fact sheet regarding nutrient regulations and the 330 CMR 31.00 regulation

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) law:

  • No application of plant nutrients shall be made within 100 feet of surface waters that are used for public drinking water supply. Lake Attitash, Tuxbury Pond, Meadowbrook Pond and the Powow River (north of the water treatment plant) are sources for Amesbury’s drinking water.
  • No application of plant nutrients shall be made within 20 feet of other waterways using a broadcast method, or within 10 feet using a drop spreader. This includes Lake Gardner, Clarks Pond, Bailey’s Pond, Park Pond, Pattens Pond, the Powow River, Back River and Merrimack River.
  • Fertilizer containing phosphorus may only be applied when a soil test indicates that it is needed or when turn/lawn is being established, patched, or renovated.

Here’s what you can do to help: 

  1. Stop all fertilizing within 100 feet of Lake Attitash, Meadowbrook Pond, Tuxbury Pond, and the Powow River north of the water treatment plant. 
  2. Stop all fertilizing within 20 feet of Lake Gardner, Clarks Pond, Bailey Pond, Park Pond, Pattens Pond, the Powow River, the Back River and the Merrimack River. 
  3. Stop using any phosphorus-based fertilizers within Amesbury unless a soil test indicates it is needed and meets the law.
    1. If you are a landscaping company which provides phosphorus-free options, let us know so we can add you to the Amesbury Lakes & Waterways Commission webpage. Those companies will also be shared with the Lake Attitash Association, Clarks Pond Association, Merrimack River Watershed Association and the Lake Gardner Improvement Association. 

Thank you for your cooperation on this matter!

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