THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON IS THREATENED AND IT’S TIME TO DIVE IN AND HELP

The Indian River Lagoon is home to an incredible variety of life. We are working to Protect OUR Lagoon and restore this ecosystem back to health. Right now, our lagoon is suffering from harmful algae blooms caused by an excess of nutrients, changes in fresh water flows, and the addition of dangerous chemicals. Do your part with us to help save the Indian River Lagoon

THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON IS VITAL TO FLORIDA AND TO YOU

The Indian River Lagoon is the most biologically diverse estuary in the country, with more than 4,300 species of plants and animals calling this place home. Visitors come from around the world to fish, kayak, canoe, paddle board, and swim in the IRL, contributing more than $3.7 billion dollars annually to Florida’s economy, according to a 2007 study. The wide variety of fish and shellfish provide outstanding recreational fishing opportunities and local food for Floridians.

THE PROBLEMS

project h2o Nutrients – Too many nutrients within the IRL can lead to many imbalances in the ecosystem, including harmful algal blooms. Excess nutrients can come from many sources, such as lawn fertilizers, pet waste, lawn clippings, agricultural runoff and inefficient septic systems.

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MORE ABOUT NUTRIENTS

Nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, are needed in a healthy Indian River Lagoon system, but problems occur when there are too much within the water body. Excessive nutrients can come from many sources, including fertilizer use on commercial and agricultural lands and faulty or leaky septic systems.

Fertilizer on urban and suburban lawns and commercial and agricultural lands can have harmful effects on the surrounding habitats if not used properly. Heavy rains tend to wash excess fertilizer away from lawns and into local waterbodies or down through the groundwater. The Volusia County Fertilizer Ordinance is attempting to limit the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous applied to lawns within County limits. This ordinance bans fertilizing during the summer months of June through September, and when more homeowners begin to follow the ordinance this will limit the harmful input of nutrients that get washed off lawns by rainstorms. Help Protect Our Lagoon by skipping the fertilizer this summer.

Septic systems line the Indian River Lagoon and, if they are not properly maintained, can leach harmful nutrients into the water body. There are over 80,000 septic systems within all of Volusia County and over 1,900 within the Volusia County portion of the IRL. Unfortunately, the watershed is being flooded with nutrients from these systems, many of which are outdated, abandoned or defective. Septic systems are designed to expel waste and waste water through a drain field, but if this drainage is too close to a water body or groundwater, nutrients begin to drain into that water. Many cities and municipalities within Volusia County are working towards connecting to central sewage systems that reduce the impact on the IRL.

project h2o Freshwater Flows- Changes in freshwater inputs into the IRL from wastewater treatment facilities, storm drains after heavy rains, and discharges from Lake Okeechobee can cause major damage to the ecosystem.

MORE ABOUT FRESHWATER FLOWS

 

Changes made to the natural flow of freshwater into the Indian River Lagoon from treated wastewater and stormwater outfalls and the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee can increase the amount of nutrients entering the IRL. The increase in nutrients can lead to harmful and toxic algae blooms, fish kills and poor water quality.

Many cities and municipalities within Volusia County have discontinued the practice of releasing treated wastewater into our local water bodies, but there are many who still use this method to get rid of their unneeded (and sometimes polluted) water. Wastewater from our communities is treated at local facilities and many times discharged into local waterbodies, including the Indian River Lagoon. This wastewater contains high levels of nutrients and sometimes other harmful substances which can be dangerous to plants, wildlife and humans. The City of New Smyrna Beach is a great example of how to properly make use of the excess water. NSB has not discharged into the IRL or other water bodies since 2009, and they now recycle 100% of the water that is received to irrigate local parks, schools, ball fields, and urban and suburban lawns.

Stormwater drains are essential to a functioning and well-maintained city, town, or municipality. After heavy rains, these drains carry the excess water and debris from local streets, driveways, and other impervious surfaces out to local waterways. However, any times this water is tainted with fertilizer, oil, gas, sediments, trash, and other harmful contaminants that get dumped into the Indian River Lagoon. Some of these drains are aided in the removal of trash and other suspended materials through the use of baffle boxes other water filtration devices.

The billions of gallons of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee being released into the St. Lucie River and into the St. Lucie Estuary are causing major water quality issues in the southern portion of the IRL. In order to relieve some of the pressure put on the Herbert Hoover Dike from heavy rains and an increasing water level, huge amounts of polluted water are being released every day. The water being released is filled with nutrients from the runoff of fertilizer, animal waste, and other chemicals applied to the neighboring agricultural lands.

project h2o Chemicals- The runoff of herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals applied to urban and suburban lawns and agricultural lands can harm the many plants and animals living in the IRL.

MORE ABOUT CHEMICALS

Chemicals, like herbicides and pesticides applied to urban and suburban lawns and commercial and agricultural lands, often leach down into groundwater supplies and run off into local water bodies. These chemicals can have detrimental effects on the plants and wildlife in the Indian River Lagoon as they can introduce unnatural chemicals into the system.
Herbicides and pesticides are widely used in landscape management and agricultural areas as an alternative to other more labor intensive forms of weed and unwanted plant removal. However, these chemicals, sometimes applied in massive quantities, can make their way into our water bodies where they can continue to harm the plants and animals in our natural system.

THE SOLUTIONS

project h2o Be Lagoon-Friendly – Skip the fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides on your lawn and learn about your local fertilizer ordinances. Opt for native or Florida-friendly plants that require less watering and be sure to pick up pet waste. For more information, visit BeFloridianNow.org

project h2o Get Involved – Volunteer, support, and donate to local organizations that contribute to the health of the Indian River Lagoon. Click HERE to see a list of our partners who work closely with the Indian River Lagoon.

project h2o Speak Up – Let your voice be heard on behalf of the IRL by contacting your state and local representatives. We want them to know how important the Indian River Lagoon is to Floridians. Click HERE to see a list of your local legislators.

sample letter to Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott,

An unprecedented crisis is unfolding in the Indian River Lagoon.
Discharges of contaminated water from Lake Okeechobee have triggered widespread algae blooms, some of which has been confirmed toxic.

Its appearance has forced the health department to close parts of the St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon and — for the first time — our oceanfront beaches.

We are concerned about our health. Respiratory issues have been reported by some residents who live near the blue-green algae. Longer-term links to neurological diseases are even more alarming.

We are concerned about our economy. Some waterfront businesses have closed their doors, and Realtors are warning would-be buyers and vacationers of the hazardous conditions.

We need your help.

Stopping the discharges from Lake Okeechobee is the solution. To do that, we need more land to store, treat and move excess water south from Lake Okeechobee — instead of dumping it east to the St. Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee River.

Jobs are at stake. Public health hangs in the balance. Please use the power of your position to make a bold move.

I live in Volusia County, and our economy relies on the Indian River and on tourists and clean water for water sports, including fishing and paddle boarding and boating and swimming. That’s why people come to visit and spend money at our local businesses. Help us keep our water clean!

Contact Form

Indian River Lagoon waters need your help
YOUR LEGISLATORS

(there is a draft letter that you can download at the end of this list)

Governor Rick Scott

www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/

400 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Phone: 850-488-7146 US

Senator Bill Nelson (FL)

www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill 

The Honorable Bill Nelson

United States Senate

716 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-0905

Phone: 202-224-5274 U.S.

Senator Marco Rubio (FL)
www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator- rubio?p=Contact

The Honorable Marco Rubio

United States Senate

284 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-0908

Phone: 202-224-3041

Florida House of Representatives
Find Your Reps Here:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/

Florida State Senate
Find Your Reps Here:
https://www.flsenate.gov/

Volusia County Council

123 W. Indiana Ave., DeLand, FL 32720

386-736-2700 DeLand

386-257-6000 Daytona Beach

386-423-3300 New Smyrna Beach

386-574-0598 Osteen

Jason P. Davis

County Chair

jdavis [@] volusia.org

Pat Patterson

Vice Chair/District 1 Representative

ppatterson [@] volusia.org

Joyce Cusack

At-Large Representative 

jcusack [@] volusia.org

Joshua Wagner

District 2 Representative

jwagner [@] volusia.org

Deborah Denys

District 3 Representative

ddenys [@] volusia.org

Doug Daniels 

District 4 Representative 

ddaniels [@] volusia.org

Dr. Fred Lowry 

District 5 Representative 

flowry [@] volusia.org

James T. Dinneen 

County Manager

jdinneen [@] volusia.org

Get a Project H2O yard sign, take the pledge

We are looking for homes and businesses along the Indian River Lagoon in Volusia County to display a yard sign in support of the IRL. The beautiful (and FREE) yard sign can be displayed anywhere in your yard and will help raise awareness and support for the Indian River Lagoon. Your yard sign (pictured below) is accompanied by a Protect Our Lagoon pledge.

Pledges can be mailed or brought to the Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd. New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169 – ask for Mallory.
MDC is also where you can pick up your lawn sign.

Click HERE to request a yard sign and help Protect Our Lagoon

Click HERE to download the pledge  and help Protect Our Lagoon

Want more information on Protect Our Lagoon? Sign up for our monthly newsletter HERE

Project H2O yard sign