Monday, April 12, 2010

Phosphorus: Bane of Michigan's lakes and ponds, staple of the Creature from the Black Lagoon

I took back two SUV-sized bottles of Costco dishwasher detergent Sunday after discovering, belatedly, that they contained both chlorine and phosphorus. Neither is necessary for clean dishes. Both are hazards to the environment and a burden on our tax-funded wastewater treatment plant.

Costco won’t be able to sell the stuff anyway starting July 1, when a ban on phosphorus in dishwasher detergent takes effect in Michigan:

Phosphorus is junk food for aquatic plants. It runs into lakes and ponds from septic systems, from overburdened treatment plants, and especially from fertilizer applied to agricultural fields and residential lawns. There, it accelerates plant growth that chokes ponds and lakes with mats of nasty weeds. Those plants also hog all the oxygen in the water, killing other organisms including fish.

Plus, the nasty weeds mess up boat propellers and are no fun to swim through. Unless you are the Creature from the Black Lagoon, photographed here shortly after testifying against phosphorus bans. (Bonus points here for anyone who has watched the movie:

Many counties in Michigan already have banned phosphorus in lawn fertilizer. State lawmakers, someday when pressing matters like protesting Meatout Day or getting re-elected aren't holding them hostage, will get around to passing a ban on phosphorus fertilizer:

Just like dishwasher detergent, there’s no need for phosphorus lawn fertilizer. Something like 95 percent of residential soils tested have way more than enough. The laws banning phosphorus make exemptions for anyone who has a test showing the need, is starting a new yard, or has some other special circumstance.

Meanwhile, any respectable retail outlet has low- or no-phosphorus lawn fertilizer available. Don't be that creature from the Black Lagoon.


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