This past week, the Jacksonville City Council passed both an irrigation ordinance and a fertilizer ordinance. The new irrigation legislation will limit watering of lawns and shrubs to twice a week and designate assigned days of the week for households and businesses. The fertilizer ordinance will limit the amount of fertilizer that can be applied on an annual basis and will require buffers along waterways where fertilizer can't be applied.
Although these ordinances are certainly not perfect and will definitely not solve all of our water use and fertilizer runoff issues, they are a good start. Hopefully, they will serve as tool to educate homeowners and businesses about the importance of conserving water and how to responsibly apply fertilizers to our lawns. Let's face it; we use an excessive amount of water (over 50% of our water is used for irrigation) and many people frequently apply far more fertilizer than is necessary. We have to start taking significant measures to curb our excesses and live more sustainably. Our river is sick, and we are reaching the limits of our aquifer, the source of over 90% of the drinking water in this state. This unfortunate situation will only get worse if we don't do something now to address the causes of these problems. These ordinances represent a first step in that direction for Jacksonville.