The Norman Transcript

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February 27, 2013

Protecting Norman’s water supply

NORMAN — Water was the dominant theme at the Norman City Council meeting Tuesday as members adopted a fertilizer ordinance, new water conservation triggers and a resolution to use drought-tolerant plants in city plantings.

The fertilizer ordinance was hotly debate before passing in a 7-2 vote, with council members Dave Spaulding and Chad Williams voting against.

Spaulding said he does not support the ordinance because it is big government and he believes it cannot be enforced. Williams said the ordinance should be educational, not mandatory.

“There is a difference in the term of impact between voluntary and statutory fertilizer ordinances,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said she originally favored voluntary controls, but the seriousness of the lake issues swayed her to support the mandatory ordinance.

Most of the water that runs off in the Norman area ends up back in Lake Thunderbird, Norman’s primary drinking source.

 “We’re in a unique situation that we actually drink our storm water,” city engineer Scott Sturtz said. “This is to protect Lake Thunderbird.”

The ordinance is designed to limit phosphorus pollution. In some cases, phosphorus might be needed if the soil is low in phosphorus. In addition, phosphorus is beneficial when plantings are new. If phosphorus or phosphate is needed, it is allowed.

The ordinance restricts application when it is raining or rain is predicted or if soils are saturated. Phosphorus fertilizer on paved areas must be removed and cannot be stored uncontained. Application is prohibited within 25 feet of a water body and cannot be blown, swept or dumped into any street, storm drain, ditch, creek, pond or waterway.

The ordinance contains a public education component, and registration will be required for commercial applicators using phosphorus. Stores that sell fertilizer with phosphorus must label it and post notices about the city’s fertilizer regulations. Sales of phosphate fertilizer will be tracked.

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