Greetings from the Policy Director of the American Canoe Association! Everyone at the ACA wishes you a Happy New Year!

As a Virginia paddler, you probably know that U.S. EPA has adopted a Total Maximum Daily Load ("TMDL") for Virginia and the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. A TMDL is a pollution diet that limits discharges into the Bay and its tributaries. This TMDL is an effort to improve water quality and restore the health of the Bay.

For the TMDL to be successful, all the states in the Bay watershed will need to limit discharges of nitrogen and phosphorous, two nutrient chemicals contained in fertilizers used to increase plant growth. Overuse of fertilizers results in excessive nutrient discharges ("nutrient loading") into the Bay and its tributaries, resulting in runaway growth of plants like algae and Hydrilla. When these plants die, they consume all the dissolved oxygen in the water, creating dead zones that kill fish and other aquatic organisms.

Now, here is something that may surprise you. The largest crop grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is not corn or soybeans. It is the grass that you have in your front yard. When we add up all the lawns, golf courses, ball fields, parks and median strips in the watershed, grass is our biggest crop. In Virginia, more land grows grass than corn and soybeans combined.

Many homeowners overuse fertilizers. Established lawns do not need phosphorus fertilizer, and some well-intentioned homeowners apply more nitrogen fertilizer than their lawns can actually use, thinking that “more is better.” Unfortunately, the excess nutrients applied to lawns inevitably washes into local streams. Once there, it is expensive to remove them. A two-acre fertilized lawn can discharge a pound of phosphorous. Removal of that amount from the water can cost more than $30,000. 

Virginia Senator Richard Stuart and Delegate R. Lee Ware have introduced bills in the General Assembly that would put common sense limits on the sale and use of phosphorous and nitrogen-based fertilizers. Senate Bill 1055 and House Bill 2463 would adopt the most cost-effective approach to reducing excess fertilizer from urban and suburban areas of the Bay watershed. You can read these bills by following the links above. Review the attached fact sheets to learn more.

We need your help in passing SB 1055 and HB 2463. Call or write your State Senator and Delegate and ask them to support these bills. Follow this link to look up the names of your representatives. Use the phone numbers shown to call your Senator and Delegate, or click on the button below the address information that says "Send a message to your Delegate and Senator."

When you click on the "Send a Message" button, a form will appear that you can use to send messages to your representatives. Complete the form, then write a message, or paste the sample message below into the box, and customize it to make it personal from you. Then click the button that says "Send your Message."

Thanks for doing your part to make Virginia a better place to paddle!

--- Sample Email Text ---

Subject: Stop Excess Lawn Fertilizer from Polluting the Bay

I am a ________  (canoeist / kayaker) who lives in your district and paddles the rivers and streams of Virginia. I believe that Virginians and their elected representatives must do their part to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. Right now, the way to do that is to implement the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

One of the biggest problems facing the Bay is excessive discharges of phosphorous and nitrogen-based fertilizers. Heavy nutrient discharges from urban and suburban runoff are creating dead zones in the Bay and its larger tributaries. The primary source of these excessive discharges is the misuse of lawn fertilizer. 

Senator Richard Stuart and Delegate R. Lee Ware have introduced bills in the General Assembly that would put common sense limits on the sale and use of phosphorous and nitrogen-based fertilizers. Senate Bill 1055 and House Bill 2463 would adopt the most cost-effective approach to reducing excess nutrients from urban and suburban areas of the Bay watershed. These limits would be significant step towards fulfilling Virginia's commitment to restore the Bay.

I urge you to support SB 1055 and HB 2463. Thank you.

--

Paul Sanford

Director of Stewardship & Public Policy

General Counsel

American Canoe Association

108 Hanover Street

Fredericksburg VA 22401

(p) 540.907.4460 x106

(f) 888.229.3792

psanford@americancanoe.org

www.americancanoe.org