Editor's Note: The following press release was distributed by the office of state Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford).
Rep. John V. Fernandes announced today the passage of a phosphorus runoff reduction bill in the House, which enables the bill now to move to the Senate.
The legislation, originally drafted by Rep. Fernandes and co-sponsored by Senators Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) and Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), eliminates the use of phosphorous in most fertilizer products — a major contributor to the pollutants damaging rivers and streams across Massachusetts. The EPA is pursuing a mandatory reduction in such phosphorous runoff by each city and town along the Charles River, which has been estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars to businesses and municipalities in the targeted areas of the Charles River watershed.
“I am very grateful that the bill has initially passed the House and is now before the Senate,” stated Fernandes. “Many environmental advocacy groups, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and business interests came together to reach consensus on a good bill that establishes realistic benchmarks for eliminating phosphorus in fertilizer products, protecting agricultural uses, and reducing phosphorous runoff into our lakes, streams and rivers across the state.”
Fernandes gave special credit to Jessica Strunkin, who serves as Deputy Director of Public Policy & Public Affairs at the 495 Partnership, for assisting in the coordination of meetings among the stakeholder interest groups, helping to reach consensus on a compromise package, and working with legislative leaders and sponsors of the bill to help maintain the movement of the bill through the various House legislative channels.
Fernandes added: “This is a bill that will have a positive and far-reaching environmental impact while maintaining the competitiveness of local businesses and communities impacted by EPA mandates in Milford, Franklin and Bellingham.”
The passage of the phosphorous runoff reduction bill will enable the local communities to seek reductions in the target mandates for runoff of phosphorus into the Charles River by 10 to 15 percent, resulting in millions of dollars being avoided in stormwater runoff containment costs.
The legislation now awaits action in the Senate.