What is the Save Our Indian River Lagoon plan and why is it being revised?
The SOIRL Project Plan is a document originally prepared as part of the 2016 Brevard ballot initiative that created a 10-year, half-cent sales tax fund directed to restoring the lagoon. Voters approved this $45 million annual fund by more than 62 percent.
Importantly, we voted for a real 10-year plan, not just a fund and hoped that it would work.
This plan is revised annually, and the 2021 revision is currently in process.
What does it contain?
The 2020 SOIRL Plan is a 237-page document that describes the problem, possible approaches to improving it, criteria for selecting the most cost-effective options, and a description and schedule for each of the hundreds of approved projects over the life of the fund. Each plan revision is subject to review and approval by the Brevard County Commission.
The 2016 vote also called for the Brevard Department of Natural Resources to manage and staff execution of the plan, and it established a volunteer Citizen Oversight Committee responsible for reviewing all aspects of planning and execution. The COC is made up of 14 volunteers representing different parts of our community (i.e., finance, science, tourism, real estate, technology, education and lagoon advocacy). They meet on the third Thursday of each month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. You can watch at brevardfl.gov/SaveOurLagoon/CitizenOversightCommittee.
Most of the plan’s projects involve construction activities (e.g., septic system conversion to sewer, muck dredging, construction of baffle boxes and oyster reefs). They generally require matching funds from partner organizations (e.g., a city, water or sewage district or the state).
Given the economic slowdown due to the COVID pandemic, the revenue raised during 2020 and ’21 may require adjustments. The 2021 plan was revised by the staff and its consultants for the COC’s review at its upcoming December meeting and approval in January. The commission will act on it in February.