The Indian River Lagoon watershed can be cleaned up if we take the following steps…
REMOVE THE MUCK
The Indian River Lagoon contains tremendous layers of detrimental muck fill in the estuary floor.
Muck contains contaminants that have entered the lagoon from stormwater discharge and runoff from residential properties and other point sources.
Contaminates create a layer of uninhabitable soil that also leaches chemicals to fuel algal blooms.
This layer needs to be surgically removed from the Indian River Lagoon in order to restore essential habitat for keystone species such as seagrass.
Brevard County is working diligently to remove this detrimental muck from our lagoon and has already acquired the funding to get started with dredging operations. Want more information on this topic? Read “Muck: The arch-enemy lurks deep in Indian River Lagoon”, written by Florida Today.
Stormwater runoff can be detrimental to the lagoon by causing changes in nutrient and salinity levels as well as introducing pollutants .
How can we fix this? The Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department is working on reducing the amount of stormwater discharge that enters the Indian River Lagoon. The Brevard County Stormwater Program was created by the Board of County Commissioners in 1990, and since the early ‘90s, the county has invested $34 million dollars in stormwater treatment projects to either hold or purify water before it enters the lagoon.
Results: Over 450 projects have been completed, resulting in the treatment of 21,000 acres worth of stormwater,
The Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department continues to work on additional projects, the details of which can be found on their homepage.
The St. Johns River Water Management District is also responsible for managing groundwater and surface water resources in 18 counties, including Brevard County. They work directly on water supply to these counties, as well as with flood protection, water quality issues, and management of natural systems. Their website and the Indian River Lagoon Update are excellent resources for up-to-date information on the Indian River Lagoon, including current issues and the steps being taken to find solutions. Also be sure to check out their extensive current and archival water quality data and visit It’s Your Lagoon for more current news and information concerning Indian River Lagoon water management initiatives.
This is where the oyster’s shine! Brevard Zoo’s Brevard Oyster Restoration project currently has two programs dedicated to restoring the Indian River Lagoon by bolstering the area’s native oyster population.
The Oyster Mats program focuses solely on physically rebuilding oyster reefs in the Mosquito Lagoon portion of the Indian River Lagoon.
Oyster Gardening program recruits residents along the Indian River Lagoon to both grow oysters and provide data about the survivability and recruitment of oysters in Brevard County to help determine the best sites for new reef rebuilding projects geared toward oyster reintroduction. Research is the foundation for any successful restoration project, so we are working very closely with academia on both the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening projects in order to ensure our efforts are as successful as they can be.
Dr. Linda Walters of the University of Central Florida is the science behind the Oyster Mats technique being used in Mosquito Lagoon. She and her team of researchers continue to monitor restored oyster reefs each year, collecting data concerning the survivability, growth, and recruitment of oysters in Mosquito Lagoon, as well as oysters affects on other keystone species, like seagrass.
For the Oyster Gardening project, all of the data our citizen scientists collect each week is entered into a database, where it can be analyzed in order to determine the most hospitable areas for oyster reef restoration. Size and weight data on oysters grown through the Oyster Gardening program are collected when oysters are returned at the conclusion of the program, and once these oysters are placed on the new reefs, they’re monitored regularly for signs of health, growth and recruitment in order to determine the most successful reef construction methods and the most important site selection factors.