Regarding the Village of Wellington and horse manure regulations, in June of this year I was glad to hear that Wellington was considering certain regulations regarding the storage of horse manure/bedding.
About 15 years ago, a colleague and I, acting on behalf of the State of Florida Environmental Secretariat, were invited to tour several equestrian facilities in Wellington. It was a rainy day, and as I passed a manure/bedding storage bin and noted the coffee-colored extract running out of the bottom of the bin and directly into a storm drain and adjacent canal, I remember my stern suggestion, namely, “Put a lid on it!” This was and is such a no-brainer that it now boggles my mind to have now learned that Wellington’s animal waste ordinance failed and that Vice Mayor Howard Coates asked, “Isn’t that a bit of overkill?” to require a lid, even as simple as a tarp, plus storage 100 feet from a surface water body.
Wellington was taken to task for the phosphorous-based pollution emanating from Basin B by the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That led to some good best management practices (BMPs) such as fertilizers only with a middle number (P) of zero.
I have studied local nutrient pollution and algal blooms for over two decades and have had graduate students even do master’s projects on the extractability of phosphorous (P) from fresh and aged horse manure. Those findings were presented at two separate meetings (2004, 2007) of the Florida Academy of Science. Horse manure collected from numerous sites in Wellington and Loxahatchee Groves, my home town, averaged 42.7 mg P/gram dry weight of manure, and of that total P, 55 percent was readily extractable with water and mild bicarbonate solution, the same conditions found locally with rain and abundant limestone.
Getting away from the scientific weights and measures, out of the 45 to 60 pounds of wet weight manure, an average of 0.13 pounds (2.1 ounces) of phosphorous is produced and available to pollute your ponds and canals and to be exported to the Everglades. Now, do the math: Multiply that seemingly small amount of P by the huge number of horses in our area and by 365 days per year. Phosphorous enrichment favors cyanobacteria (a.k.a. blue-green algae), and it is only a matter of time, given attitudes such as Vice Mayor Coates’, before one or more of the cyanobacterial blooms is of the toxic variety. Yes, toxic to humans — Google it! I thank you for your time and, hopefully, consideration of the environment and our future.
Dr. J. William Louda
Editor’s note: Dr. Louda is a senior scientist with the Environmental Sciences Program at Florida Atlantic University.