Nitrogen fertilizer ban considered in Venice

The crystal clear waters of Venice drew Rob Merlino and his family to the area, but the last few months have turned his world upside down. 

Red tide moved in and brought a wave of death to the area's waterways.

"It's a wonderful lifestyle," Merlino said. "I hate to see the whole eco-system destroyed." 

Merlino believes banning fertilizers and switching over to native plants could go a long way toward stopping red tide. 

"I would rather have a brown lawn and blue water than a green lawn and brown water," he said. 

He brought his idea - a proposed a ban on nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers - to Venice Vice Mayor Bob Daniels.

Sarasota County already regulates and bans fertilizer usage from June till September 30, but Daniels wants it banned permanently. 

"We have to take bold actions ourselves. Resolutions and asking is not bold enough. An ordinance is a policy that is backed up with fines if you do not adhered to it," Daniels said. 

He also wants the city to monitor all water that flows into the gulf from the city. On the beach, 10 outflows guide rainwater to the gulf. 

His goal is to ultimately cut off nutrients that may make red tide worse. 

While blooms occur naturally, scientists believe nutrients added by humans, like fertilizer, fuel it's growth. 

"We need to value life over green grass," Daniels said. 

If his motion passes on September 11, it'll go into effect by October 1. Residents like Merlino believe it'll have an impact for the rest of the state. 

"It's gonna make it easier when we go to the county and when we take it to the state level," said Merlino.