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New Bill Aims To Reduce Water Pollution By Restricting High-Nitrogen Fertilizers On LI

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Many homeowner use fertilizer to maintain their lawns, but a grassroots group on Long Island says the products are dangerous and wants them scaled back.

Algae blooms that lead to fish kills, contaminated drinking water – all byproducts of an abundance of nitrogen. The primary source is sewage or wastewater, but "the second biggest nitrogen problem is with fertilizers," explained Patti Wood, executive director of Grassroots Environmental Education.

That's why she wants laws that made a big difference.

Wood helped craft new legislation that aims to reduce water pollution on Long Island by restricting the sale and use of high nitrogen water soluble fertilizers in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

On each bag of fertilizer, you'll find three numbers – the first represents the percentage of nitrogen in each bag.

"We can't afford to be spending billions getting nitrogen out of the water only to have people's lawn fertilizers add it back in,'" founder Marshall Brown said.

Most organic fertilizers already comply and cost the same as their chemical competitors.

"We're also insisting that 50 percent of that be water insoluble," said Wood.

CBS2 reached out to Scotts Miracle-Grow for its take.

"This bill would ban access to slow release nitrogen products, which helped slash nitrogen use by Long Islanders in half since 2008," a spokesperson said in a statement.

What do Long Islanders think of the proposed bill?

"If it's better for the environment, why not?" one man said.

"Anything that reduces the amount of chemicals that go into our ground water has to be a good thing," a woman added.

Paul Johnson, owner of Silverleaf Landscape Design, swears you don't need fertilizers. He suggests "composting and watering the soil in properly."

A boast-worthy green lawn can be yours without chemicals. But still, people use fertilizer. So will this new legislation pass and curb its nitrogen content?

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