The St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida DEP, state and local elected officials, and Indian River Lagoon protection advocates celebrated the start of muck dredging from the Eau Gallie River last week at Ballard Park in Melbourne.
“This project exemplifies the progress possible in improving conditions in the Indian River Lagoon through partnerships,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “This was a grass-roots effort led those living along the river and supported by the state and Legislature.”
“Indian River Lagoon restoration is a top priority of the department with hundreds of millions already invested in pollution control and more to come,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration.
“Everyone is pulling for a healthy Lagoon and we are doing our part by eliminating pollution sources like muck deposits. We are proud to partner with the St. Johns River Water Management District, and Brevard County, to remove muck buildup and improve the overall health of the lagoon.”
Attendees watched as a fantail of muck sprayed from a pipe and into the Dredged Material Management Area.
When the project wraps up by late 2018, at least 632,000 cubic yards of the black, gooey substance will be removed. Muck is a mix of fine-grained sediments, sand, clay and organic matter in untreated stormwater runoff that drains to canals and storm drains connected to tributaries in the lagoon, including the Eau Gallie River.
Muck can accumulate nutrients that contribute to algal blooms and create detrimental conditions for seagrasses and organisms vital to the lagoon’s aquatic food chain.
Funding partners include DEP, which is providing $20 million approved by the Florida Legislature in 2014 and 2015; FIND, which contributed $3.9 million toward project design, permitting and construction of a Dredge Material Management Area (DMMA); and the city of Melbourne, which contributed $50,000 for the initial feasibility study.
Dredging is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.