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~Department funds 12 projects to help restore Indian River Lagoon~

indian river lagoon

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has awarded more than $24 million in funding for 12 recent projects to continue efforts to improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. These projects will help communities reduce stormwater nutrient loads, continue stormwater treatment improvements, reduce or eliminate nonpoint source pollution and eliminate muck sediments.

“We are committed to partnering with local communities to expedite and implement projects that improve water quality and contribute to the ongoing restoration of the Indian River Lagoon, which is vital to Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life,” said DEP Interim Secretary Ryan Matthews. 

Recent projects benefiting the Indian River Lagoon include:

Brevard County: Awarded a total of $556,100 in grant funding and a legislative appropriation for a nutrient-reduction project at Pines Industrial Pond, a 71-acre commercial and industrial area, including construction of a treatment train system to treat stormwater runoff. The enhanced pond system is estimated to remove approximately 800 pounds of nitrogen and 100 pounds of phosphorous per year. 

Brevard County was also awarded a $122,350 legislative appropriation, for a total of $361,850, for the Johnson Jr. High School pond retrofits. These will enhance the efficiency of an existing retention pond by regulating and redirecting stormwater flow through nitrogen-removing and phosphorous-absorbing chambers to reduce pollution entering the northern Indian River Lagoon.  

Cape Canaveral: Awarded a $98,400 grant for shoreline restoration at Banana River Park and Manatee Sanctuary Park, along approximately 1,700 feet of the eastern shore of the Banana River Lagoon. Restoration includes a combination of coquina rock placement, native vegetation such as mangroves and wire grass, and enhancement of an infiltration swale. This project will protect the shoreline from high winds, wave erosion and sediment deposit.

Edgewater: Awarded a $159,300 grant for stormwater treatment improvements at Lamont and Hubbell streets, which will reduce untreated stormwater runoff directly discharged into the Indian River Lagoon. Project benefits include reducing nutrients entering the estuary, increasing groundwater recharge, reducing saltwater intrusion and encouraging seagrass growth. The project is estimated to remove approximately 24 pounds of nitrogen and three pounds of phosphorous per year. 

Indialantic: Awarded a $65,500 grant for a stormwater retrofit at Lily Park, including clearing invasive melaleuca trees, installing approximately 900 linear feet of storm sewer and excavation of a stormwater treatment area within a 1960s era storm sewer system draining directly into the Indian River Lagoon. The project will improve the quality of stormwater discharged into the lagoon.

Melbourne: Awarded a $517,050 grant for a stormwater retrofit within approximately 200 acres in the high-density residential neighborhoods of Bell and Garfield, both with stormwater currently draining into the Eau Gallie River and northern Indian River Lagoon.

Ocean Breeze: Awarded a total of $465,000 in a grant and a legislative appropriation for a stormwater retrofit of a 46-acre watershed to the Indian River Lagoon, including construction of a treatment train consisting of bioswale excavation and plantings, two baffle boxes and exfiltration pipe. The project will help remove nutrients from stormwater entering the estuary.

Palm Bay: Awarded a $400,000 legislative appropriation for stormwater treatment at Palm Bay Marina near the mouth of Turkey Creek, which flows into the Indian River Lagoon. Treatment includes retrofit and installation of treatment trains that will reduce untreated stormwater, which damages seawalls, while discharging into the lagoon. The project will prevent further seawall erosion and is estimated to remove approximately 40 pounds of nitrogen and 1,600 pounds of phosphorous per year.

Rockledge: Awarded an additional $162,500 grant, for a total of $937,500 for phase one of a septic tank elimination project in the Rockwood and Knollwood Gardens subdivisions adjacent to the Indian River Lagoon to reduce nutrient pollution. Construction of a central sewer line will connect approximately 140 residential lots to a lift station. 

St. Johns River Water Management District: Awarded an increase of $10 million for a total of $20 million from legislative appropriation grants for a muck dredging project in the Eau Gallie River, a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon. This additional funding and expansion of the project allows for completion of all dredging and the removal of approximately 625,000 cubic yards of muck sediment. Muck soils will be removed from the main stem of the Eau Gallie River, and from the southern branch of the river, Elbow Creek. The project is estimated to remove approximately 1,200 tons of nitrogen and 260 tons of phosphorous contained within the Eau Gallie River muck deposits. 

Titusville: Awarded a $352,752 grant for stormwater treatment that includes installation of two treatment trains with catch basins for stormwater flowing from the Main Street and Sycamore Street sub-basins, totaling 588 acres. The project is designed to improve water quality and reduce pollutants carried by stormwater from entering the Indian River Lagoon.

Titusville was also awarded a $105,000 legislative appropriation for watershed improvements in the city's Knox McRae Basin, including construction of a treatment train. The project is estimated to remove approximately 280 pounds of nitrogen and 55 pounds of phosphorous.

Project funding is provided by the state's Total Maximum Daily Load Water Quality Restoration Grant, legislative appropriation grants and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant. 

The department is working aggressively to improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon by identifying and funding additional wastewater and stormwater projects to reduce the amount of nutrients going into the lagoon, as well as dredging projects to remove muck from the bottom of the lagoon. 

Governor Rick Scott's "Fighting for Florida's Families" budget proposes funding for a 50/50 state matching grant program with local communities, including those along Indian River Lagoon, to provide funding to encourage residents to move from septic tanks to sewer systems in order to curb pollution that is currently entering impacted water bodies. Additionally, this proposal will support local communities to help build wastewater systems to meet the increased demand for wastewater services.