Problems: Across the state and within Volusia County, much of our surface water, groundwater, and coastal waters are contaminated with nutrients, pesticides, flame retardants, and other residential and industrial waste. Focusing here on just the nutrient run-off, the sources include fertilized lawns, golf courses, commercial and public spaces, septic tanks, and reclaimed water stored in ponds. Rivers, ponds, lakes, and the intracoastal waterways suffer from the algal and cyanobacterial blooms that are stimulated by these excess nutrients. In addition to reducing the aesthetic and recreational value of these waterways (and thus a significant basis of our tourism economy), these algal blooms negatively impact the other plant and animal communities of these systems.
Solutions: Like water quantity, we have strict county, state, and federal regulations to protect our waterways from pollution, but we always have room for improvement, and we can achieve that through education and community awareness. As a community, we must:
- Prioritize native and Florida Friendly landscaping across residential, commercial and public spaces to reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides
- Build awareness and encourage compliance with the Volusia County Fertilizer Ordinance
- Promote alternative solutions to synthetic fertilizer applications (e.g., organic compost amendments) that help rebuild soil microbial communities can that hold water longer and recycle nutrients better on site.
- Continue seeking ways to promote regular septic tank maintenance or to subsidize conversion to sewer where possible.