The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has awarded Brevard County an additional $21.5 million legislative appropriation grant for Phase II of the Brevard County Muck Dredging project.
This latest funding builds on the previous $20 million awarded in the past two years for muck removal in the Indian River Lagoon, for a total investment of $41.5 million to date.
Muck build-up is a result of nutrient pollution, sediment, grass clippings, leaves and other organic matter entering the Indian River Lagoon over time and accumulating at the bottom.
As muck decomposes, it consumes oxygen needed by fish and it releases nutrients that feed algal blooms.
Muck sediments also negatively impact navigation and can damage seagrass beds, FDEP said.
“Eliminating current sources of muck is a crucial step toward improving water quality and the overall health of the Lagoon,” said DEP Interim Secretary, Ryan Matthews.
“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.”
This newest phase of the project will remove approximately 400,000 additional cubic yards of muck sediments from the south Sykes Creek and Grand Canal sites within the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon and associated tributaries.
Virginia Barker, Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department director, said: “The continuation of muck removal projects is important to the overall health, productivity, aesthetic appeal and economic value of the Lagoon, and saving the Lagoon is a top priority for the people who live, work and play here.”
Previous funding included $20 million for the ongoing Phase I of the Brevard County Muck Dredging project, which when completed will remove approximately 350,000 cubic yards of muck from the north Cocoa Beach, Mims boat ramp and Turkey Creek sites within the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon and associated tributaries.
Additionally, $800,000 was awarded to identify sources of muck in the Indian River Lagoon and remove aquatic vegetation from the Lagoon watershed.
Together, both phases of the muck dredging project are estimated to remove a total of approximately 1,400 tons of nitrogen and 300 tons of phosphorous contained within Indian River Lagoon muck sediments, FDEP said.