Water Quality Issues

Water Quality Issues

The St. Lucie River Estuary is a complex living ecosystem, not a swimming pool that needs to be cleaned.

It is a natural soup of nutrients, minute organisms and thousands of interdependent species from microscopic algae and invisible crustaceans to very obvious manatees, sawfish and tarpon.

The mixture of nutrients and organisms makes this estuary function. Unfortunately, the majority of people living on this estuary cannot see the billions of organisms, large and small, that make it work to support all the life within it and along its banks.
Right now larval tarpon, tiny transparent eel-like fish, are migrating up the St. Lucie River to their nursery sites. You cannot see them, as even when you have them in a glass jar, they are nearly invisible. Yet larval tarpon morph in the St. Lucie River and grow into one of the largest game fish in Florida waters, esteemed by most anglers.

Read more: Grant Gilmore: Be careful — the wrong ‘fix’ could kill the St. Lucie Estuary

CCA Florida commends Senator Joe Negron for taking the lead in addressing the harmful discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. Making Florida's water a priority as incoming President of the Senate should provide legislators and others the jump start needed to move forward on real, workable solutions to problems that have existed far too long. With hard work, solving the dilemma of our waterways could become this legislature's  legacy to the people of Florida. We look forward to learning  details about the proposal to purchase land in the "Everglades Agricultural Area" and other projects to clean the water and send it south, providing much needed relief to our rivers, the Everglades and Florida Bay. Our residents, visitors, businesses and members support a broad comprehensive approach to this economic and environmental disaster.


Thank you Senator Negron for making this issue the priority for Florida's next legislative session

The Brevard County Commission will be meeting tomorrow, August 9, to discuss an important proposal for the Indian River Lagoon. The idea involves several Lagoon restoration and improvement projects, all of which hold promise to improve Lagoon conditions.

The "Save the Lagoon Project Plan" would be a 10-year effort which includes muck removal, septic tank removal and conversion, sewer system upgrades, oyster reef restoration, fertilizer management, monitoring, and public education.

Read more: Brevard County Considers Important Indian River Lagoon Initiative

CCA Florida has previously stated its support for the Central Everglades Planning Project, or CEPP.  But just what is CEPP and what projects does it include, and how are they supposed to help our estuaries and the Everglades?

The Central Everglades Planning Project is an important component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).   To review, CERP was authorized by Congress in 2000 by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) as a plan to restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem, among other things.  By just about any measure, CERP is one of the most ambitious hydrologic restoration projects in U.S. history.  Given the complexity involved, CERP's original timeline was in excess of 30 years, and its price tag was initially in excess of $10 billion.  In reality, and sadly, CERP will take longer and cost more than its earlier estimates to fully implement.

 
CEPP's constituent parts involve storage, treatment, and conveyance of water just south of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) and in other areas further south toward Everglades National Park.   Vital goals of CEPP include the reduction of undesirable water discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems, the delivery of greater volumes of clean water to the Water Conservation Areas (WCA's) and to northern Everglades National Park, and the restoration of important habitat throughout the central Everglades system.  It is estimated CEPP projects may be able to deliver in excess of 60% of the water volumes CERP aspires to ultimately convey southward.

Read more: What the CEPP?!

An established neighborhood in the historic city Rockledge in Brevard County is on the forefront of an initiative to help protect the Indian River Lagoon.  Immediately south of Cocoa and having a total population of roughly 26,000, Rockledge occupies a front row seat along the Indian River.  With financial help from the State of Florida, Rockledge is currently converting septic systems of over 140 homes between U.S. 1 and the Indian River to the city’s sewer system.  The ultimate goal is to switch almost 370 septic systems in the enclave to the municipal lines.  

This project, like a few others, should help reduce nutrients leaching into the Indian River.  In the case of the Rockledge project, it is estimated the conversions will help prohibit over ten tons of nitrogen and one ton of phosphorous from slivering into the Indian River annually.  It is believed nitrogen and phosphorous fuel algae blooms which can lead to fish kills, sea-grass die-offs, and other habitat destruction.  Other septic removal or conversion projects around the state – in different stages - include those in Vero Beach, Jensen Beach, Islamorada, and Ocala, to name a few.  The newly formed Indian River Lagoon Council has made septic system eradication its highest priority, and agrees that septic systems in all communities along the Lagoon should eventually be eliminated.

Read more: CCA Florida Applauds Septic Removal Projects

The super blooms and brown tides in the Indian River Lagoon system between 2011 and 2016 and their attendant sea grass destruction, fish kills, and wildlife deaths have raised public awareness regarding water quality issues.  The fact is that many people in state and local government as well as in academia have been worried about water column issues in the IRL and many of Florida’s other estuary systems for many years.  The tragedy in the Indian River Lagoon merely brought nutrient loading to the fore as story after story appeared in our newspapers and on TV news.

Nutrient loads that enhance the growth of algae and phytoplankton come from a number of sources but the one source that we as citizens can quickly and directly have positive impact on is residential lawn and garden management.  And it does not matter where you live in Florida.   How you manage your yard effects a broad range of environments around you.   If you live inland how you fertilize, mow, trim, and water your yard effects run off and ground water which eventually affects lakes, then springs, then rivers, then estuaries and coastal water systems.  If you live along one of Florida’s coastal estuaries like the Indian River Lagoon or Tampa Bay your impact is far greater and more immediate because of your proximity to the water body itself.

Read more: Is Your Yard Killing the Resource You Cherish?

Join CCA Banner

Donate to CCA Florida

Click Here to Make a Donation

Join CCA Banner