The Village of Grayslake, IL, has unanimously approved a law designed to prevent fertilizer pollution in rainwater runoff. The new law bans the use of phosphorus-based fertilizer for lawn care and landscaping, except in certain situations. Those exempted situations include:
- When soil tests confirm that the ambient phosphorus content is below median phosphorus levels for typical area soils
- Flower beds and vegetable gardens
- Farming or agriculture, provided that the use of fertilizers is related to the growth of a product or maintenance of growing fields.
Grayslake joins Mundelein, Antioch, Gurnee, Libertyville and Lindenhurst among northern Illinois towns limiting residential use of fertilizers with phosphorus. Grayslake is located roughly 40-50 miles north and slightly west of Chicago.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), phosphorus is an essential element for plant life. But when there is too much of it in water, it can speed up eutrophication (a reduction in dissolved oxygen in water bodies caused by an increase of mineral and organic nutrients) of rivers and lakes. And as the EPA points out, too much phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Additionally, some algal blooms are harmful to humans because they produce elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water, consume tainted fish or shellfish, or drink contaminated water.