Steady, gradual progress made toward restoring polluted Indian River Lagoon

Brevard County sales tax collection now in year 4 of 10-year increase

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – The Brevard County Indian River Lagoon Coalition Wednesday night hosted its three-year report on the progress being made in a 10-year sales tax increase toward restoring the ecological treasure.

Those who attended the free event at Satellite Beach High School learned where cleanup efforts stand.

“People have a lot of questions and they want to know, where is this sales tax money going and what’s happening,” MJ Waters, with the lagoon coalition, said.

Brevard County says $125 million has been collected thus far and $400 million will be collected when tax ends after the 10th year.

Waters said that following Election Day in 2016, when Brevard County voters overwhelmingly chose the half-penny tax hike, there were about 140 major projects underway for the lagoon.

She said now, 240 of those projects are underway, including converting 1,600 septic tanks and upgrading wastewater treatment systems.

"It's all clicking together because it's a complicated problem," Waters said.

The lagoon’s pollution problems were nearly a career-changer for fishing guide Captain Alex Gorichky.

“Business is good, but it’s still a struggle,” Gorichky of Local Lines Charters said. 

Gorichky said lagoon health got so bad, he had to survive, at times, working offshore.

Gorichky said he does see some really clean water moving in in a few areas, but harmful algae remains in other parts.

"So unfortunately, that brown algae that really preempted the whole tax is still around. It hasn't gone anywhere," Gorichky said.

Organizers said Thursday night's forum addressed with optimism where the cleanup goes from here.

“Brevard County residents have always stepped up when it comes to the natural environment because that’s what they love about living here,” Waters said.

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