To identify and reduce the increasing amounts of waste and pollution in the Indian River Lagoon, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Brevard County Commission have agreed to fund an additional $800,000 for a new project.
The additional $800,000 will add to the $20 million previously awarded for the Brevard County muck-dredging project within the last two years.
The added funds will assist the effort to lower nitrogen and phosphorus levels, which can reduce the probability of algal blooms. A recent algal bloom in the northern Indian River Lagoon and Banana River is a reminder to focus on improving the water quality, officials said.
"Brevard County appreciates state assistance with projects to restore health to the Indian River Lagoon - a local, state and national treasure. Inadequate protections in the past have led to harmful muck accumulation," Virginia Barker, Brevard County natural resources management director, said in a news release. "We are proud to be a partner in this important project."
Mapping and prioritizing areas of the lagoon that are heavily affected by waste along with minimizing waste loading into the lagoon will be the focus areas of the Brevard County project.
"Eliminating current sources of muck and removing muck deposits are both crucial steps toward improving water quality and the overall health of the lagoon, including protecting fish and wildlife that call the Indian River Lagoon home," Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystem restoration, said in the release. "Brevard County continues to demonstrate its commitment to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon and we look forward to continued collaboration to protect this important resource."
Nearly $26 million from the Florida First budget will be invested in 10 water-quality improvement projects in the coming year. That includes $21.5 million for the continuation of the Brevard County muck-dredging project.