Why muck is a bad thing and what to do about it

What is Muck?

It’s the black mayonnaise that covers the bottom of much of the Indian River Lagoon. It smothers seagrass, clams and other bottom dwellers. Lying there, it produces a flux accounting for nearly 25 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorous feeding algae blooms each year. It’s bad.

How did it get there?

Muck is the accumulated goo from our development through the past 50 years. It's made up of whatever has been dumped or washed into the Indian River Lagoon — utility wastewater (now prohibited) and septic system leakage; silt and clay from construction and sod; organic matter, grass clippings and leaves; the accumulated dirt and deposits on streets, roofs and driveways. 

What are we doing about it?

We have really begun to clean up this residual mess. A number of important projects are underway. Some have been completed and most are summarized in the county’s Save Our Indian River Lagoon (SOIRL) plan.

The most obvious are the muck dredging projects, where thousands of tons of muck are removed from the bottom by suction dredges. The muck is pumped to sites where the water is extracted, treated and returned to the Indian River Lagoon, and the solids are dried and disposed of in suitable landfills.

Dredging projects have been completed or are in process at Sykes Creek, Cocoa Beach, Eau Gallie, Turkey Creek, Grand Canal and Mims. 

Other SOIRL projects such as baffle boxes, retention ponds, the conversion of septic systems to sewerage treatment and the planting of native vegetation are reducing the buildup of muck. One very important step was taken in the late 1990s when Clean Water Act enforcement required wastewater utilities to stop dumping effluent into the Indian River Lagoon. 

For a summary of projects completed, go to   preview.tinyurl.com/y5ljlem2