I hear a lot about the need to restore the Indian River Lagoon and about money being collected — what's actually being done?
The answer is: A lot. As shown by the two thermometers in the figure, the half-cent Save Our Indian River Lagoon (SOIRL) sales tax will raise $542 million during its 10-year life by 2026 (paid in part by tourists); it's being spent on 372 projects.
These projects will decrease nitrogen pollution in the IRL by approximately 33% (more than 1.2 million pounds per year) and phosphorous by39% (more than 100,000pounds per year).
Already, the SOIRL Program has completed 63 projects, including septic to sewer upgrades, enhancements to sewage treatment facilities, installation of stormwater cleaning systems and removal of muck coating the lagoon floor. And 143 additional projects are currently underway. Together these projects will remove some 1 million pounds per year of nitrogen and 67,000 pounds per year of phosphorous. We're making progress.
You can follow the progress at the public SOIRL Citizen Oversight Committee meetings every third Friday of the month. You can attend in person or watch on your computer or TV by going to Brevardfl.gov/SaveOurLagoon/CitizenOversightCommittee.
And, there's more. The SOIRL Program is not alone. The St. Johns River Water Management District is also busy with projects to restore the lagoon. So far, it has contributed $38 million in funding to more than 60lagoon projects leveraged with an additional $43 million from other sources. We are fortunate to have many other organizations also investing in the recovery of our Indian River Lagoon.
As a final note, it is worth observing that the water has been clearer with limited fish kills and algal blooms this year. Also, there have been reports of seagrass beginning to return in several locations; unfortunately, not enough for our beloved manatees.
We are by no means finished restoring our piece of paradise, but a lot is being done and there are signs of progress.