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Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law

The Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law (Chapter 205 of the laws of 2010), was signed into law by the Governor on July 15, 2010. This law will improve water quality in New York by reducing phosphorus runoff into the State's waterbodies. It will also reduce costs to local governments and private entities required to remove excess phosphorus from stormwater and wastewater, and will improve recreational and other uses of the state's waters.

The Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law amends section 35-105 and adds a new Title 21 to Article 17 of the Environmental Conservation Law.

Important information for Pesticide Applicators and Commercial Permittees.

What will be required?

Lawn Fertilizer

Beginning on January 1, 2012, the law will:

  • Prohibit the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer unless establishing a new lawn or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus.
  • Prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer on impervious surfaces and require pick up of fertilizer applied or spilled onto impervious surfaces.
  • Prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer within 20 feet of any surface water except: where there is a vegetative buffer of at least 10 feet; or where the fertilizer is applied by a device with a spreader guard, deflector shield or drop spreader at least three feet from surface water
  • Prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium between December 1st and April 1st
  • Require retailers to display phosphorus containing fertilizers separately from non-phosphorus fertilizers and to post an educational sign where the phosphorus fertilizers are displayed.

This provision DOES NOT impact agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens

  • Picking the Right Fertilizer
    Fertilizer labels have three bold numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, e.g. 22-0-15. Use of products with 0.67 in the middle or lower is not restricted. Products with a number higher than 0.67 may only be used if a new lawn is being established or a soil test indicates it is necessary.
  • Getting a Soil Test
    The NYS DEC recommends that soil testing be done by a laboratory that routinely performs soil nutrient analysis testing. The results tend to be more accurate than home test kits and most labs will also provide fertilizer application recommendations. Labs can be found through a web search or through the local Cornell University County Cooperative Extension office. Please see "Offsite Links" at the right. Tests generally cost in the $10 to $20 range (in 2010). Soil may also be tested using a test kit, but these tests tend to be less accurate and do not come with fertilizer recommendations.
Links

Dishwasher Detergent

Beginning August 14, 2010, the law prohibits the sale of newly stocked, phosphorus-containing dishwasher detergents for household use. Retailers may sell-through any inventory of phosphorus-containing dishwasher detergent in stock as of August 14 for 60 days, or until October 13, 2010.

  • Starting on July 1, 2013, the law prohibits the sale of phosphorus-containing dishwasher detergents for commercial use.
  • There is no change to the phosphorus limits for detergents used to clean dairy equipment or food processing equipment.
Links

Who is impacted?

  • Manufacturers of automatic dishwasher detergents
  • Manufacturers of lawn fertilizer products
  • Retailers and distributors of dishwasher detergents and lawn fertilizers
  • Landscapers and lawn care professionals
  • Pesticide applicators
  • Households, consumers, anyone managing lawns

Why is this law important?

  • Phosphorus impacts our water. Phosphorus enters the environment in many ways. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), defective septic systems, agricultural runoff, fertilizer, manure, decomposing leaves, and urban/suburban runoff all contribute phosphorus to the environment. Phosphorus going into the State's water has been linked to: reductions in oxygen in waterbodies necessary for fish to breathe; algae that turn water bodies green; and algae and algae by-products that degrade drinking water.
  • Detergents and lawn fertilizer can have unnecessary phosphorus. New York took action to reduce phosphorus in most household products in the early 1970's, eliminating its use in hand dish soap and laundry detergents but exempted dishwasher detergent, which was not very common at the time. Fertilizers contain phosphorus to help spur plant growth. However, in many areas of the State, sufficient phosphorus to foster lawn growth is naturally occurring or exists due to many years of over fertilization. Phosphorus from dishwasher detergents and lawn fertilizer has the potential to significantly affect t New York State's water resources.
    • Dishwasher detergents may contain up to 9% phosphorus and can account for 9% to 34% of total phosphorus in municipal wastewater.
    • Lawn fertilizer contains up to 3% phosphorus and can account for up to 50% of the soluble phosphorus in stormwater runoff from lawn areas.
      While automatic dishwasher detergent and lawn fertilizer are only two sources of phosphorus, they are sources that are easy and inexpensive to control.
  • Local governments can save money at no cost to consumers. This law will help local governments to reduce phosphorus loads and meet water quality standards in areas where there is excessive phosphorus. Over 100 waterbodies in New York are impaired due to phosphorus including: the East of Hudson New York City Watershed; Lake Champlain; Onondaga Lake; Cayuga Lake; parts of Lake Ontario; and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
    • Removing phosphorus at a WWTP costs approximately $1 to $20 per pound. By reducing levels of phosphorus entering the environment, communities can save through the use of less chemical treatment and the generation of less sludge.
    • Preventing phosphorus from getting into stormwater is cost effective compared to building phosphorus control systems, which can be very costly to municipalities (local taxpayers).

What other states have a law similar to New York's Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Law?

Dishwasher Detergents:

Sixteen states have enacted a law that requires phosphorus-free household detergents starting July 1, 2010, including: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington (State), Wisconsin.

Lawn Fertilizer:

  • New York's law is modeled after legislation enacted by the State of Minnesota.
  • Lawn fertilizer control laws have also been adopted by Maine, Wisconsin and Florida.

How will this new State law impact local laws that reduce phosphorus?

New York State's law will not impact existing local laws, including laws adopted in Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and Chautauqua Counties and the Village of Greenwood Lake.


More about Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law:

  • Important Information for Pesticide Applicators - Commercial pesticide applicators, including those operating under lawn care contract and any other person using fertilizers, including homeowners, must comply as of January 1, 2012, with the new restrictions in the NYS Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law.
  • FAQ For Lawn Fertilizer - Phosphorus impacts our water. It enters the environment in many ways. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), defective septic systems, agricultural runoff, fertilizer, manure, decomposing leaves, and urban/suburban runoff all contribute phosphorus to the environment. Phosphorus going into the State's water has been linked to reductions in oxygen in waterbodies necessary for fish to breathe,algae that turn water bodies green, and algae and algae by-products that degrade drinking water.
  • FAQ Dish Detergent Law - Phosphorus can degrade water quality, water with excessive phosphorus that is used for drinking may need additional treatment. Phosphorus is also expensive for municipalities to remove from wastewater at the wastewater treatment plant; approximately $1 to $20 per pound.
  • Nutrient Runoff Law - ECL Article 17, Title 21 - This is the new version of the Nutrient Runoff Law, Article 17, Title 21.
  • Detergents & Other Household Cleansing Products Law - ECL Article 35 - This update of ECL Article 35 prohibits the sale of phosphorus-containing dishwasher detergents for commercial use.