New way to monitor health of Indian River Lagoon

Water quality stations in place to check pulse of important body of water

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - A new way to keep an eye on the health of the Indian River Lagoon has made its way to Brevard County.

The lagoon has been a big concern for awhile after sea grass started dying off, followed by the deaths of various animals, including dolphins, manatees and pelicans.

But now, new water quality stations are in place to check the pulse of this important body of water.

Before the stations were installed, biologists were only able to take samples by hand, but with these new devices, they can check the lagoon's water quality 24 hours a day with just the click of a mouse.

"It measures the physical parameters. What's the temperature? What's the PH? What's the dissolved oxygen in the water? All the stuff the other animals need as well," said David Hornsby, an environmental resource program manager with St. Johns River Management District.

Five new real-time water quality monitors have been placed up and down the five-county-long lagoon.

"We can watch as the chlorophyll starts going up and starts approaching to see if we're starting to see a bloom forming," said Hornsby. "So it gives us an early warning detection of that."

Hornsby said the monitoring stations have sensors that collect real-time data on the lagoon's water quality, which has been plagued for years by excess nitrogen and phosphorus.

"You need a certain amount of nitrogen and phosphorus to have a healthy water body, but too much is a bad thing and that triggers algal blooms," said Herschel Vinyard, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Vinyard said the new monitors are one of nearly 500 projects in the works to restore the 156-mile estuary.

"Those 500 projects will make a measurable difference in the water quality of the lagoon," said Vinyard.

At about $60,000 a piece, the sensors will also serve as a guide for officials, giving them a better idea on what projects they need to jump on to bring the lagoon back to health.

People at home can check the water quality themselves by going to

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