The St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), state and local elected officials, and Indian River Lagoon protection advocates yesterday celebrated the completion of a two-year-long muck dredging project in the Eau Gallie River aimed at improving water quality.
Attendees gathered at historic Ballard Park at the mouth of the Eau Gallie River to celebrate the removal of approximately 630,000 cubic yards of black muck from the waterway, which is a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon.
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.
According to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s announcement, 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.
The removal of such a significant amount of muck translates to the reduction of approximately 1,200 tons of nitrogen and 260 tons of total phosphorous, nutrients that contribute to algal blooms in waterways.
“This project highlights the progress possible in improving conditions in the Indian River Lagoon when we all work together,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We’re celebrating not only a cleaner waterway but the active community here which led a grass-roots effort to improve water quality. Our legislators listened and responded by appropriating $20 million in funding.”
Legislative funding for the project was disbursed through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Florida Inland Navigation District and the city of Melbourne contributed $3.75 million and $50,000 respectively. Brevard County provided a location to store the dredged material.