Lincolnshire investigating phosphorus ban for fertilizer

Updated 1/13/2011 5:13 PM

Lincolnshire is the latest Lake County community to weigh banning lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.

Following a few months of study, the village's park board on Monday will discuss whether such a ban should be recommended to the village board.

"They're taking a real hard look at this issue," said Scott Pippen, the village's streets and parks superintendent.

Antioch, Lindenhurst, Long Grove, Riverwoods and Vernon Hills are among the Lake County communities that already have outlawed the use of fertilizers with the mineral.

Phosphorus helps grass germinate and grow. But excess phosphorus can be washed from a lawn by rainwater and seep into lakes, streams and other waterways.

It can then make waterways vulnerable to weeds and deplete oxygen supplies needed for native life, experts have said.

Last year, state lawmakers banned lawn-care companies from using phosphorus-based fertilizers except in cases where a phosphorus deficiency can be proven.

The issue surfaced in Lincolnshire in August when a member of the park board, which advises the village board, brought a copy of the state ban to a meeting, Pippen said.

Village staffers investigated and found the public works department doesn't use fertilizer with phosphorus to treat the grass at local parks, he said.

Phosphorus is only used during seeding to help establish turf, which is allowed under the law, Pippen said.

The state ban doesn't apply to personal use by homeowners, however. The local-level bans in other communities do.

Some scientists insist additional phosphorus isn't needed on Illinois lawns because most soils here already have enough for plants to grow.

Buying fertilizer containing phosphorus is becoming more difficult in the state, too, Pippen said.

Pippen isn't convinced a ban is necessary in Lincolnshire, but he doesn't strongly oppose one, either.

"There's a lot of science on both sides of the issue," he said. "Fertilizers and pesticides are safe if they're used properly. They will not hurt people; they will not hurt the environment. It's when they are used improperly that they create a problem."

Monday's park board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at village hall, One Olde Half Day Road.

If the parks board recommends a ban, village trustees will discuss the issue at a future meeting.

Mayor Brett Blomberg said he's open to a ban, as long as phosphorus can be added to soil that needs the mineral.

"If we can reduce contaminating the waterways, then why not?" Blomberg said.