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This draft legislation prohibiting the use of high-nitrogen fertilizers and any fertilizers containing per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is being offered for consideration in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. 

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Protecting Long Island's Water from Fertilizer Contaminants

A local law to prohibit the sale or use of lawn fertilizer containing high levels of water-soluble nitrogen and any level of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNTY LEGISLATURE OF THE COUNTY OF NASSAU, AS FOLLOWS:

 

Section 1: Short Title

This law shall be known as the "Protecting Our Water from Fertilizer Contaminants Law" and shall appear in the Miscellaneous Laws as Title ___.

 

Legislative Intent: The Legislature finds that lawn fertilizers commonly sold and used in Nassau County contain high levels of water-soluble nitrogen which are contributing to the contamination and degradation of our ground and surface waters. Some lawn fertilizers also contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which are known to be harmful to humans, even at extremely low concentrations. It is the purpose of this law to protect our vulnerable water sources by prohibiting the use or sale of fertilizers that will result in permanent contamination.

 

Section 2: Definitions

As used in this law, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth below:

 

"Commissioner" shall mean the Commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Health

 

"Lawn Fertilizer" shall mean any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin which is applied to areas of turf and claimed to contain one or more essential plant nutrients. The term fertilizer shall not include un-manipulated animal manure, compost, compost tea, mulch and agricultural liming materials used to reduce soil acidity.

 

"Low Nitrogen Fertilizer" shall mean fertilizer containing not more than twelve percent (12%) nitrogen by weight, of which at least half must be Slow Release Nitrogen.

 

"Person" shall mean any individual, business, firm partnership, limited liability partnership, corporation, company, society, association or any organized group of persons whether incorporated or not.

 

"PFAS-free" shall mean that the product contains no measurable amounts of per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, whether intentionally added or not.

 

"Retailer" shall mean any person who sells or offers for sale fertilizer to consumers or applicators.

 

"Slow Release Nitrogen" shall mean water insoluble nitrogen; or nitrogen in a form that releases, or converts to a plant-available form, plant nutrients at a significantly slower rate relative to a reference soluble product.

 

Section 3: Prohibition

No person shall sell, purchase, use or apply any lawn fertilizer within the County of Nassau that is not a PFAS-free low-nitrogen fertilizer.  No retailer in Nassau County shall offer for sale any fertilizer that has not been certified by the manufacturer as PFAS-free.  

 

Section 4: Penalties

Any person who violates Section 3 of this law shall be subject to a civil penalty of not greater than five hundred ($500) dollars for the first offense and not greater than one thousand ($1000) dollars for the second offense, and not greater than two thousand five hundred ($2500) dollars for each subsequent offense thereafter, which may be recovered following notice and an opportunity to be heard in a proceeding before the Commissioner or his or her designee.

 

Section 5: Rules

The Commissioner shall promulgate such rules as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions of this title.

 

Section 6: Severability

If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section or part of this law or the application thereof to any person, individual, corporation, firm, partnership entity or circumstance shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unconstitutional, such order or judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section or part of this law, or in its application to the person, individual, corporation, firm, partnership, entity, or circumstance directly involved in the controversy in which such order or judgement shall be rendered.

 

Section 7: SEQRA Determination
This legislature, being the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) lead agency, hereby finds and determines that this action is an unlisted action under the provisions of Title 6 NYCRR Part 617, and that based on an evaluation of the environmental criteria set forth in §617.7(c) that are considered to be indicia of significant adverse environmental impacts, that such action will not have significant negative impacts on the environment, and that no additional environmental review or action is necessary.

 

Section 8: Effective Date

 

To be determined.

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