Indian River Lagoon marks three years of improvements
January 2020 marks the third anniversary of the massive voter-initiated effort to restore the Indian River Lagoon. The Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan is in place and steady progress is being made.
In November 2016, citizens of Brevard County took a bold step, unlike other communities, to vote for a half-cent sales tax to restore the lagoon. This established the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Trust Fund that has collected more than $125 million. Nearly a fourth was contributed by tourists. During the 10-year life of the tax, it is expected to raise more than $400 million.
Eighteen lagoon projects have been completed so far, with more than 64 actively moving forward.
More than 160 septic systems near the water have been converted to sewer service, eliminating the constant flow of nitrogen and phosphorous waste into the lagoon. Initial monitoring shows a dramatic drop off in the pollution plume.
Two major muck dredging projects are complete, and two more are underway. Millions of cubic yards of muck are being removed. Dredging clears this black goo from the seabed of the lagoon, allowing for regrowth of sea grasses and restoration of fish habitat.
Through the Brevard Zoo’s conservation program, natural mangrove shorelines are being replanted, and oyster reefs are being added to help filter nutrients. 3.7-million pounds of oyster shells have been used in constructing the reefs. Oysters are beginning to come back for the first time in a half century.
Trust Fund projects are reviewed carefully by county staff and an independent Citizens Oversight Committee prior to final approval by the County Commission. Each project requires matching funds to leverage the community’s investment and ensure oversight.
A free Lagoon Straight Talk event was held Jan. 22 at Satellite Beach High School.
For information, go to HelpTheLagoon.org.
Restoration is not a quick process, but every project is progress.