HOW VALUABLE IS THE
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON?
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is part of the longest barrier island complex in North America, occupying more than 40% of Florida’s east coast, extending over 156 miles from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Jupiter Inlet in West Palm Beach. The Lagoon is a uniquely diverse water way encompassing three bodies of water, the Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River and the Indian River.
These bodies of water are not actually rivers as they have no headwaters and no mouths and their flow relies on wind and tidal currents. Instead, the Indian River Lagoon is an estuary, where fresh water combines with ocean salt water through inlets creating a complex collage of habitat and biological diversity.
As one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, the IRL is home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals that depend on the quality of water within the Lagoon for survival.
The IRL is a significant economic driver for five counties—Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. In a recent 2016 economic valuation study by the East Central Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils, the IRL’s total economic output in 2014 was $7.6 billion, not including an estimated $934 million in annualized real estate value for properties located on or near the lagoon.
The Lagoon has experienced countless algal blooms since 2011, which have destroyed more than 60% of its seagrasses and killed off record numbers of manatees, pelicans, dolphins, shorebirds and fish. Today we have lost most more than 50% of our native species who call the Lagoon home.
WHY IS THE INDIAN
RIVER LAGOON SICK?
For decades, the IRL has been severely threatened by rapid development, habitat destruction, overharvesting and pollution. The northern half of the Lagoon has only a few outlets to the sea, so it does not flush very rapidly which means that stormwater runoff, wastewater treatment discharges, septic systems and excess fertilizer applications have flooded the Lagoon with harmful nutrients and sediments. The nutrients feed the massive algal blooms, and together, with the suspended particles, block the sun from reaching the seagrass. As a result, the seagrass dies, oxygen levels fall and fish suffocate. The rotting fish produce more available nutrients which leads to more blooms.
SAVE OUR LAGOON
Since 71 % of the IRL’s area and nearly half its length is in Brevard, our community voted for a ½ cent sales tax in November 2016, to raise just under $303 million dollars for restoration efforts over the next 10 years. The health of the IRL is clearly a high community priority worthy of our limited sales tax resource, and the Save Our Lagoon Plan is a comprehensive strategy created based on the best science-related data available today. The money stays in Brevard where we can keep an eye on it and maintain firm control through the formation of a Citizen Oversight Committee. Their job is to make sure the projects are on schedule, on budget and reduce pollution as planned. That committee is made up of scientists, tech entrepreneurs, economists, real estate interests, educators, eco-tourism representatives and lagoon activists.
The Plan focuses on removal of nutrient-rich muck on the bottom, reducing the current flow of nutrients and sunlight-blocking particles in the Lagoon and restoring the natural filtration and oxygenation systems through living shorelines. This is where Restore Our Shores comes into play. Using native features such as sand, rock, oysters, mangroves and seagrasses to act as natural breakwaters, shoreline erosion will be reduced and water quality will improve by filtering out pollutants, nutrients and trapping sediments, thereby preserving and restoring coastal environments.
HELP BRING OUR LAGOON
BACK TO BLUE FASTER
You can continue to help the Lagoon by adopting Blue Lifestyles at home and at work that reduce the sources of water pollution flowing into the Lagoon. Here are some easy tips to help the Lagoon:
Follow local fertilizer rules year round. Nitrogen and phosphorous are banned during the rain season, June 1 – Sept. 30.
Return grass clippings to your yard. Compost or mulch yard waste.
Wash your car where the soap and dirty water don’t flow into street drains.
Minimize pesticide use and dispose of toxic chemicals correctly.
Pick up after your pet as dog waste carries bacteria that sickens the Lagoon.
Maintain, upgrade or replace your septic system.
LOOKING FOR MORE WAYS TO
BRING OUR LAGOON BACK TO BLUE?
HELP US RESTORE OUR SHORES
We need you! Our projects are almost exclusively based on the efforts of volunteers from all across Florida who are responsible for virtually every aspect of each project.
Click on the volunteer tab to join us today.